Will Join GCAA
Georgia Highlands College will begin playing competitive intercollegiate sports this fall, according to GHC President Randy Pierce, who made the announcement at a news conference in April in the gymnasium of the Floyd campus. The college has been researching the issue since last year, when it formed a study committee to look into the feasibility and interest in offering a program.
Pierce told attendees that the Board of Regents had approved an athletic fee for GHC, which will allow the college to provide a program students have wanted for a long time. Over the summer the institution will be joining the Georgia College Athletic Association of the National Junior College Athletics Association, and has already begun the search for an athletics director. Pierce said the athletics program should be ready to launch this fall with a basketball team on the Floyd campus. Preliminary future plans also call for baseball and softball teams, as well as soccer and tennis programs. All sports will include men’s and women’s teams.
Last year GHC hired the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics to conduct a feasibility study on athletics. It also conducted a student survey to gauge the interest of students in such a program, and held a number of student and community forums to explore the issue among these constituencies. Ultimately, a new student fee to pay for the program was approved by GHC’s Student Engagement Council, and the results of the forums and studies all pointed to enthusiastic support for a formal athletics program.
For the next few years, all GCAA activities will be run from Rome or Cartersville. The other GHC sites can’t currently accommodate the facilities required to support teams. The Floyd campus, which sits on 226 acres of land six miles outside Rome, already has a gymnasium, as well as eight tennis courts and a soccer field. Additionally, it has the space to construct a baseball field if desired. GHC-Cartersville encompasses 50 acres of land, and while there is currently no baseball field on the campus, there is room to create one at a later date. In the meantime, the college can explore other options to use existing playing fields in Cartersville/Bartow County. Additionally, the college just broke ground on a new student center there, which will house basketball/volleyball courts and a fitness center to support athletic programs.
Pierce said, “This has been a very exciting year for us. Despite the slow economy, we continue to keep our eyes on the future of Georgia Highlands College, growing strategically to meet the needs of our students. The addition of an athletics program keeps us competitive in the marketplace. Our students have long clamored for athletics. We are one of only three institutions in the USG without a program, so it’s time to offer it.”
During the news conference to announce athletics, Pierce introduced the college mascot, Charger.