By ROBERT PLESS
In a history-making decision for the university, Kennesaw State University received the green light from the Board of Regents to create a football team with financial backing from
Cincinnati-based Fifth-Third Bank, which hopes to help KSU grow and expand over
the next several years.
“I am not only excited for the school, but I am excited for the Kennesaw community,” said Vaughn Williams, director of athletic programs for KSU.
Even though Williams has only been with KSU for close to two years, the process of creating a football team began more than six years ago, with Kennesaw State President
Daniel Papp appointing a Football Exploratory Committee in 2009, which was headed by former University of Georgia football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley.
Williams says that through a student athlete and alum of KSU, who is employed with Fifth-Third Bank, KSU Board of Trustees members Barry Hyman and Norman Raydow kept in constant contact with Fifth-Third Bank Plans for the football team accelerated in the past eight to nine months as KSU and Fifth-Third Bank started to realize that they shared the same values and goals for the school and the surrounding community.
Fifth-Third Bank also wants to offer support for KSU outside of athletic programs, Williams said. Fifth-Third Bank wants to offer the school new technologies, financial literacy programs, banking options, scholarships and a greater sense of community
“They want to impact lives outside of athletics,” Williams said.
Students and professors alike on campus are buzzing loudly about the addition of football to the school and how it will impact their educational experiences.
“I’m so excited for the program, and I can’t wait to see how it helps the university grow,” said Regina Bradley, an adjunct professor at KSU.
Williams says that he and the school are in talks with other potential sponsors and financial backers, but had to keep the identities of said entities anonymous.
Fifth-Third Bank also will receive sponsorship recognition at the Convocation Center, Bailey Field and Stillwell Stadium. Fifth-Third also will have advertisements run through most of KSU’s student-run media, including The Sentinel and OWLRadio.
KSU will experience its first football season in the fall of 2015, with the current soccer stadium being renamed to the Fifth-Third Bank Stadium after renovation of the 8,300-seat complex, Williams said. KSU is in NCAA Division I athletics, which means the
school will be playing opponents like Georgia Southern University and Appalachian State University. On emulating other football programs in the South, Williams has no concern about that.
“Let’s just be the best KSU,” he said.