By BROOKE MILLER
KENNESAW, Ga. – The Kennesaw State University Club Rugby team is getting its million-dollar stadium, as well as other fields and facilities, taken away due to the introduction of the school’s football team in the fall of 2015.
The football team has absorbed the rugby fields due to lack of space around the football stadium. The changes occurring with the fields and field space are disheartening to some club sports’ players and employees.
Chase Knight, who has been the rugby club president for the past season, said there are a lot of unanswered questions concerning the matter.
“The clubs sports coordinator just resigned and there’s a lot of speculation that that is rooted in the football team’s kind of takeover of this area [Owl’s Nest],” said night.
One option that the school is looking into for the rugby team is to relocate it to the former Southern Polytechnic State University campus, now referred to as KSU’s Marietta campus. Since the Marietta campus has rugby fields, the school sees no problem in sending the team there, not taking into account the 25-minute drive for some players.
The team will have to pay for certain amenities out of pocket if the move to Marietta happens. Ridge Meracle, former rugby club president, explained that a lot of freshmen don’t have cars on campus, so the drive to the Marietta campus is a bigger burden than the school realizes. There are also currently 37 club sports teams competing for field space.
“We’re going to have to pay for rental space to use another field if that’s the case, because 37 teams are not going to be able to fit on one field,” said Meracle.
Considering that the school has already invested so much money into the rugby stadium, team members are wondering why they are having it taken away so the football team can practice on it. Since a football field and a rugby field are not the same size, the football program will have re-do the field almost entirely in order for it to be useable for them.
“This field is less than eight years old. They spent over a million dollars on it. It’s a rugby field, and I just don’t understand why they would build us this field just to take it a few years later,” said Knight.
Louis Sarris, an employee at the club sports facility, has seen how the incoming football team has affected all club sports as well as any organization wanting to use the fields. Since he is not a club sports player, he sees the problem as an issue for all the students that use the fields throughout the year. This extends to intramural teams as well.
“I think that they’re not doing anything to fight for club sports whatsoever because even with all money that football is bringing in you still have students paying money to use the facilities and to fund their club sports. So I think that they should be heard as well as football,” said Sarris.
Rugby is not yet recognized as a NCAA sport, so football takes precedent on paper. Until rugby is a recognized sport the club level is the highest level that the athletes can get to.
This is not the first time that college rugby players have had to battle for field space. The University of Georgia rugby program has had to be “field gypsies,” which means the team migrates from one field to another in order to have a space to play.
With the introduction of football taking priority at KSU, many feel that it is likely that field space issues will continue to hound the club sports world.