The University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents approved a consolidation proposal to merge Georgia Southern University and Armstrong Atlantic State University on Wednesday, January 11.
GS will retain its name and its institutions, but ASU will be dissolved and its campus will become an extension of GS. The process of merging the two institutions will take approximately 18 months to be fully implemented, and this transition will be led by representatives of both universities.
The merger is sure to be an arduous process with many difficult decisions to be made along the way.
Having said that, there are few challenges that these transition teams will face that appear to be as irreconcilable as the attempt to combine two athletic programs that differ from one another in almost every way imaginable.
Seeing as how both universities fall under different NCAA classifications, have different academic programs and offer different benefits to student-athletes, there is obviously some discrepancy in terms of the talent and prestige of the respective athletic institutions.
ASU is home to 12 intercollegiate sports including baseball, softball, women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, tennis, cross country and golf.
Although there are no statistics available for the exact number of student-athletes at ASU, it’s safe to assume that there will be anywhere from one to a few hundred students whose futures remain uncertain.
There appears to be no possible outcome in which all of ASU’s student-athletes are able to both remain under scholarship and join the athletic programs of GS.
Take for example the Men’s Basketball team at GS, which maintains a roster of just 16 players, and the Men’s Basketball team at ASU, which also maintains a roster of 16 players.
Given this example, the impending merger raises a number of obvious questions that can be generalized across all of the various intercollegiate teams and student-athletes in question.
After the merger is completed, what will happen to those 16 basketball players from ASU?Will those players be offered a chance to tryout for GS, and if so, who has the final say in deciding the fate of these student-athletes?If there are tryouts, will those who don’t make the cut remain under athletic scholarships? What will happen to the basketball facilities of ASU?Hypothetically, if the basketball team at ASU were better than that of GS, would the Eagles then get rid of their team and be replaced by the team at ASU?
As of now, the only statement regarding the status of both the GS and ASU athletic programs can be found on the frequently asked questions portion of GS’s consolidation website.
The question reads:
“How will the consolidation impact student-athletes and athletic programs?”
“Athletics is an aspect of the consolidation that has to be decided upon early in the process because of the seasonality of athletics. This is a priority and we will get answers to students and coaches as soon as possible. We will work within conference requirements to resolve issues for student-athletes. Student-athletes’ scholarships will be honored throughout the consolidation process.”