Why Are College Athletics Important?
February 20, 2012
February 1 was a great day in the history of Dalton State College; it was on that day that we announced the return of intercollegiate athletics. In the four years since I've been on campus there is no subject that has elicited more interest than when the Roadrunners were coming back to Dalton State. After an absence of more than 30 years, I am proud to report that they will be back soon.
We held a press conference on February 1 to introduce our Athletic Director, Derek Waugh, who will be the architect of our intercollegiate athletics program. Derek is exactly the right individual for this job and I hope you will have the chance to meet him soon. Derek is dynamic and intelligent and has a clear and exciting vision for what a Dalton State athletics program should look like.
Derek shares my opinion that those participating in our programs need to be students first and athletes second. He announced at the press conference that he wants ours to be "the most accessible collegiate athletics program in the country" and he envisions launching men's and women's teams concurrently. It makes sense that we should start with individual sports, but Derek hopes to have a basketball coach on board later this year and to introduce a team after a year of recruiting.
Why are college athletics important? Our core mission, after all, is to provide broad access to quality higher education for the population of Northwest Georgia, thereby enhancing the region's economic vitality and quality of life. No mention of sports there.
Athletics are important because our students tell us they are important. In fact, when they voted on adding a fee for athletics, our students voted themselves a higher fee than the one that was recommended to them.
College students crave a particular type of collegiate experience that we are working hard to provide at Dalton State. When we introduced residential housing two and a half years ago, the dynamic of our College changed. We are casting a wider net for students from the Atlanta area and points south. Residential students expect a richer, fuller experience than commuter students demand.
Athletics will have an impact not just on our residential students but on all our students and on our faculty, staff, alumni, and community as well. We hope that the addition of intercollegiate athletics will bring a vibrancy to campus and community life as we all rally behind our Roadrunner teams. Athletic programs will eventually contribute to the community's economic vitality as well as visiting teams travel to Dalton to compete against the Roadrunners. While here, they will eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores, and stay in our hotels.
It all begins with the appointment of an Athletic Director. We've taken that step and we're proud to have Derek Waugh on board. So that more of you can meet Derek and his family and share your thoughts on Dalton State's intercollegiate athletics program, we've scheduled a Meet & Greet reception for Tuesday, March 20, 4-6 p.m. in The James E. Brown Center. I hope you will come.