Charlie Cobb, formerly athletics director at Appalachian State, was announced as Georgia State’s new A.D. on Friday morning at a 10 a.m. press conference in Centennial Hall at 100 Auburn Ave.
University president Mark Becker started out the press conference by praising Cobb as someone who is proven and conducts the business of running an athletics program in a professional manner.
“We were looking for the complete package,” Becker said. “We wanted a builder. We wanted someone who is a winner and knows how to win the right way.”
Cobb then took to the podium where he mentioned that the potential for growth at Georgia State enticed him to assume the role as the university’s new director of athletics.
He emphasized four values he has that he believes will be central to the growth of the athletic program—relationships with people inside and outside of Georgia State, notion of achievement, innovative thinking and creating tradition.
Much was also made about Cobb’s local connections. He served in various high-ranking positions in Atlanta sports throughout the 1990s, including with the Atlanta Sports Council and at the Georgia Dome. Cobb emphasized that there were enough people in the Atlanta area with ties to Georgia State that want the university and athletic program to succeed.
“When you’re from here or you’ve been here and lived here, you understand the dynamics of the city a little bit more,” women’s basketball Head Coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener said after the press conference.
According to Becker, he offered Cobb the position on Thursday afternoon and it was a culmination of a search in which the university hired Parker Executive Search, a local headhunting firm, to lead the find for a new AD. He said Cobb’s local ties to the Atlanta area were a plus for his candidacy.
“Since he also happens to have a lot of links here was a bonus,” Becker said. “When we scoped out the type of person we were looking for and the experience they had, it wasn’t a requirement that they were local. We were looking for the best available person anywhere in the country and he would have been hired even if he didn’t have those connections, but it’s a bonus that he has them.”
He said that nine candidates were evaluated. These included, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Southern Illinois’ Mario Moccia and Missouri’s Deputy AD Doug Gillin.
After the press conference, others at the event had praise for the new athletic director.
“He has the experience that Georgia State needs at this time and I think he’s a real person,” Baldwin-Tener said. “He’s got a great personality and appears like someone who would be a ‘coach’s A.D’ where you can approach him with a problem and we could figure it out.”
Softball coach Roger Kincaid echoed the thoughts of Baldwin-Tener.
“I liked his personality. I think he was very personable. He seemed to be at ease and had a few jokes in him, which I think is important,” softball head coach Roger Kincaid said. “He seems like he’s going to be able to create a culture for us that will really be conducive to us doing a good job in the athletic department. I feel like you want to win the press conference, and I felt like he did so.”
One coach Cobb referenced on numerous occasions was head basketball coach Ron Hunter. Cobb feels that there are no limitations to where the athletic program can go, and that this was referenced last year when Hunter’s team advanced to the championship game of the Sun Belt tournament.
“I had an opportunity last spring to play golf with Coach [Ron] Hunter and he honestly felt like he was someone I’ve known all my life,” Cobb said after the press conference.” I watched his team play last year even though we weren’t in the Sun Belt. I’m a football guy through my background, but my true passion is basketball.”
Appalachian State prior to joining the Sun Belt was in the Southern Conference at the FCS level in football with Georgia Southern, which is also now a Sun Belt school. The two have a storied rivalry, which is something that could occur over the continued timespan of Georgia State’s football program.
“The rivalry between Appalachian State and Georgia Southern really epitomizes what college football is all about. I have a vision of building that here,” Cobb said.
Football head coach Trent Miles also concurred that the hire of Cobb was a great hire for Georgia State and how his local connections could assist him, Becker, and the university with a major item on their wish list.
“Having someone with local connections is huge in regards to the Turner Field project, being in the community and growing our brand throughout the area,” Miles said.
Cobb not only referenced “potential” in terms of athletics and academics, but also with facilities. Georgia State has plans on purchasing the area currently occupied by Turner Field with the Atlanta Braves planning on a move to a new stadium and entertainment complex in Cobb County. The $300 million buy would come with new facilities for the football and baseball teams.
The new athletic director says the Turner Field proposal is an extension of the university’s vision for the athletics program and the area as a whole.
“[Turner Field] is a concept now. I really need to dive into that, look into and study it,” Cobb said. “I’m incredibly impressed with the vision and the potential that exists that can really transform what—traditionally—has been Georgia State’s athletic piece in the downtown community from a facilities standpoint to a very visible presence.”
Experience in building facilities was one of the criteria candidates for the AD job was evaluated on, according to Becker. Cobb once presided over an estimated $50 million in athletic investments during his tenure at Appalachian State, including renovations to Kidd Brewer Stadium for football. In 2009, a seven-story 120,000 square foot Appalachian Athletics Center was completed near Kidd Brewer Stadium.
“We asked everyone we interviewed about their experience with facilities, as well as other issues because we want someone with the complete package,” Becker said. “Certainly, Charlie’s success at Appalachian State is considerable from expanding their football stadium to building new facilities. We feel has the experience to take on a project the magnitude of Turner Field.”
Baldwin-Tener expressed her belief that the athletics program will make steps in the right direction with Cobb at the helm.
“I obviously don’t know the details of everything that it’s going to take for that to be accomplished, but I think under the leadership of our new athletic director and Dr. [Mark] Becker, we’re going to be able to accomplish what we need to get to move this athletic program forward.”
In a statement released at Appalachian State, Chancellor Sheri Everts thanked Cobb for his dedication during his time there and wished his family well.
Cobb committed himself to attending the first football game at the Georgia Dome when the Panthers faced Abilene Christian on Wednesday, Aug. 27 in a nationally televised matchup on ESPNU.