Valdosta Daily Times

January 29, 2013

Staying Division II: Valdosta State’s plan to expand

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University has no plans of moving to the NCAA Division I level.

With seven national championships at the Division II level, the university plans on staying put and continuing to build on its championship tradition.

Part of the school’s long-term plans of staying at the Division II level include the possibility of adding more sports that will bring profitable gains to the university and the local community.

After adding women’s soccer in 2010 — the team didn’t play its inaugural season until 2011 — Valdosta State athletic director Herb Reinhard said the potential of adding more women’s sports is in the future.

“I think the next two or three women’s sports we would look at would be — and again, there is no timeline, but as we are looking out ahead — lacrosse,” Reinhard said, “because of the amount of growth of the sport throughout the state, especially in the Atlanta area, women’s golf and then the possibility of adding track and field.”

With Title IX regulations in place, the university would add women’s sports before exploring the possibility of adding more men’s sports.

“We don’t have the addition of a men’s sport on our timeline right now,” Reinhard said. “That certainly doesn’t mean that we aren’t interested in it.”

Moving forward at the Division II level, Valdosta State will have to continue to deal with the everlasting outcry from fans about the lack of a home football stadium for the university’s national championship winning team.

Currently, Valdosta State plays its home games at Valdosta High School’s Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, which features a Wildcat paw as the midfield logo, black and yellow seats and limited press box space that ranks well below facilities that in-state rival West Georgia unveiled in 2009.

Reinhard understands the uproar over the heated stadium debate, but says, as of right now, there isn’t much that the VSU administration can do about the stadium situation.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that if the world was perfect and we had everything we wanted that we wouldn’t like to have our own football facility,” Reinhard said. “Even though we have a really nice relationship with the city school board, in regards to the stadium, there are still some bumps in the road sometimes. Even though we do a really good job at going over there and making it red and black, it is still very black and gold, because it is their stadium. In a perfect world, yes, we would love to have our own.”

As for if there are any talks of Valdosta State acquiring Valdosta’s Bazemore-Hyder Stadium from the city school system, Valdosta State President Dr. William J. McKinney said there are no discussions right now.

“There is nothing at this point,” McKinney said. “You don’t want to rule anything out down the road. But as for now, I’m unaware of any such talks.”

McKinney also weighed in on VSU athletics’ leadership and the overall approval rating he would give to its administration, which has been the subject of criticism in recent months.

President for less than a year, McKinney has been more than pleased with the success of Blazer athletics under the current administration and has no plans of making changes in the future.

“Take a look at the national championships that this athletic program has brought to Valdosta State and this community, and the parade we are going to have (Wednesday),” McKinney said. “That speaks for itself. I have confidence in the leadership of our athletic programs. They are in tune to our student-athletes’ needs and they bring us a lot of pride in national championships.”

While the university isn’t looking to add any new sports in the immediate future, Reinhard is on the lookout for a new volleyball coach after eight-year coach Sia Poyer resigned from the program and took a job at his alma mater, Eastern New Mexico State.

Reinhard said he isn’t rushing the search and that he wants to make the correct hire for the program.

“It is going good. We have a nice pool of candidates,” Reinhard said. “We are going steady. We are taking our time, but I want to make sure we identify the right person to help us move along in the direction that we have and move this program forward.”