The Signal sat down with Georgia State Athletic Director Cheryl Levick to find out the latest news around Athletics.
What do you see this past basketball season doing for the program and university?
This was a wonderful season for them, it was a magical season for the fans. To win every game at home was amazing, and to end on such a disappointing note, we’re still not over it.
Incredible excitement about where the basketball program has gotten to and where it’s going. The hot topic right now is we need to keep Coach Hunter here. We’re going to keep Coach Hunter here.
We had a recap meeting for the whole season, what was great, what do we want to change, what could we do better, all the stuff. Other parking options, can we do valet parkings here? I don’t know, let’s look at it because parking is always a challenge here.
We’re doing that part from an administrative standpoint. I bet you, right now, that Coach Hunter is making sure his players are going to class, staying focused on what they need to do and he’s looking at recruiting. He’s got one more scholarship out there, is there somebody out there he wants to give it to.
It’s just a great time right now for men’s basketball at Georgia State.
How do you ensure Coach Hunter stays at Georgia State?
It is being handled.
As spring football comes to a close and we get closer to another season, what steps do you want to see this program accomplish by the end of next season?
I think Coach Miles is spot on when he says this program is in a massive building mode. He knows exactly how to do it, how to recruit for it, how to hire his assistant coaches for it and how to get this team ready.
He’s encouraged by what he sees, but he’ll also say they have so much more to learn, so much more to teach.
Coach Miles and his staff are in a teaching mode right now, and they’re also making sure the team is going to class, eating correctly, so establishing the basic foundations of a good football program. That’s what they’re doing every single day.
It’s a process that needs consistency and continuity with the process there, and he’s doing it. While he’s doing that, we’re fundraising as fast as we can to get the new weight room built.
There’s not a coach or an athletic director that’s not going to say we want to win as many games as we can, and that’s exactly what we want to do. And we’re not going to go in there and try and lose, we’re going to try and win every single game we can win, and I think we have the talent to show some great improvement next year.
Do you wonder if you might be moving this football program too hard, too fast by putting them in the FBS after just four seasons?
I’m a strong believer that when an opportunity arises and a door opens, if it’s the right door, you go through it when the opportunity is there. You don’t wait.
We did a very thorough feasibility study from going to FCS to FBS, and every single result of that study showed that we can do this, and it was the right place at the right time.
Sure, couldn’t we have used a couple more years to get the team ready? Yes. That opportunity wasn’t there. That opportunity would not be there if we had waited. So, we are in the FBS, we are in the Sun Belt, it’s the right place at the right time. The caliber of recruits we’re getting going with an FBS program is very different. So you’re seeing some upper mobility in that regard.
In the state of Georgia, the state loves football. The state loves FBS football. This state is so excited that we’re supporting an FBS program at Georgia State, so we just need to keep this process going, and in another couple of years, these questions won’t be asked because the answers will already be shown on the field.
You stated the next three phases of the Master Plan you want to be completed, how soon would you like to see them completed?
Ideally, the faster we can get it in, the better. It really is fundraising driven.
We’ve got an architect working on each of those projects so we’ll have rendering soon. We’ve had one set of renderings for the weight room, and I sent it back because the cost was too high. I’m trying to keep the cost of that project under $2 million, and we’ve got about half of that in right now for that one.
We’re just beginning the fundraising for the basketball practice facility, and we almost have all the money for the academic research facility. So, the donors have special thoughts about where they want to give their money…so we always honor the donors wishes.
As soon as the money comes in, we’ll get them built. It looks like the football weight room will be the first one.
How important is it to expedite Panthersville being moved closer to campus?
If we could find the land and find the money, we would have already done it. But, you need at least 10 acres to do it correctly. To find 10 acres in Downtown or Midtown is difficult, it not impossible. And we’ll find chunks here and chunks there, and we’ve actually looked at more chunks of land than you can imagine, and they’re just deemed to small or they were too dirty in terms of the oil and things that had been in the soil. But, nonetheless, all very expensive.
We’ve yet to find the right match of where we can get at least ten acres and get everything moved here.
I support the frustration that I’m sure you and the other students have. It’s a long way out there in rush hour. Once you get out there, it’s fun and people enjoy it, but I understand that. The minute we can find any land or money that we can move it down here, I would do it in a heartbeat.
Until then, we need to make sure the quality of the facilities are as good as we can make it.
I applaud our coaches for doing such a great job in Panthersville when we have that commute issue on our hands.
*Parts of this interview were cut for brevity.