From the President
A bowl game and NCAA Tournament win usher Georgia State Athletics the into the spotlight.
When Georgia State began its football program in 2010, ESPN the Magazine featured a cherubic baby wearing Georgia State eye black and declared “A Program is Born” on its cover.
It’s been a little more than five years since we headlined the magazine’s college football kickoff issue. Georgia State is relatively new to the world of “big-time” intercollegiate athletics and we have much to do to continue developing the rich traditions and allegiances that can enhance our student experience and continue to draw fans and supporters.
But we’ve entered a new phase altogether, and I am proud of the incredible momentum we have achieved. Under the leadership of Athletics Director Charlie Cobb, we have accelerated the upward trajectory of all of our programs. Our football team played in its first bowl game this fall. Although we lost to San Jose State in the first AutoNation Cure Bowl, it’s clear our young program has turned a corner. I’m looking forward to watching as the team builds upon the success of our first winning season in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.
Our men’s basketball team is also eyeing a return to the postseason. Last year, R.J. Hunter made a long-distance three-pointer to beat Baylor in the NCAA Tournament — a basket remembered around here simply as “The Shot.” R.J. is playing for the Boston Celtics now, but his dad, Ron Hunter, has the Panthers again playing at a high level in the Sun Belt Conference.
Our beach volleyball team, just three seasons in, has also had a meteoric rise. The team was one of just eight programs out of 50 that competed in the American Volleyball Coaches Association National Championship in May. Beach volleyball has now become an NCAA-sanctioned sport and teams will compete for a true national championship for the first time this spring.
Our student-athletes succeed in the classroom as well. This fall, they earned a 3.17 cumulative grade-point average (GPA), the highest on record. Twelve teams posted a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and 206 student-athletes earned academic honors for the fall, including a record 44 on the President’s List.
We are continuing to move forward on our plans for Turner Field, a project that will be transformational for the surrounding neighborhoods, the city and our university. It promises to have a momentous and enduring impact on our university and our community.
I know our alumni and friends share my pride in seeing our vision for athletics mature and grow. We’ve come a long way in a short time, and Georgia State sports is now a nationally recognized brand and getting bigger and better each day. Go Panthers!
Mark P. Becker