Columbus State will add four sports for the fall 2009, university officials announced Monday afternoon.
The Cougars will field a co-ed rifle team, a women's golf team and men's and women's track and field teams.
The rifle team will compete at the Division I level and without a conference affiliation in its first season, while the other three teams will compete in Division II. Women's golf and the track and field teams will not be able to compete for a title in the Peach Belt Conference, however, because the conference falls short of the six teams needed to have an official championship in each sport.
The teams initially will be funded through endowments, according to university officials, and will not cost the university or the students anything yet.
The addition of the teams comes less than two weeks after students voted in a fee increase to build a fitness and recreation complex that will house a pool and several basketball courts, among other things. CSU athletic director Jay Sparks said it would not have been fair to students to pile another charge on them, so the university decided to use endowments, which it had been saving.
“We'll be using all the endowments we have and all the monies we've saved up over the years to fund this,” Sparks said. “It would have been easy for me to go to the board of regents and say we needed an increase to do this, but students just started paying $125 for the new complex and they are paying a new global technology fee, so I just didn't think that was right.”
The addition of a new athletics fee is possible several years down the line, Sparks said.
The rifle team will be coached by current CSU Athletic Facilities Coordinator Mike Green. His expertise is in dealing with the academic side of coaching. International rifle team leader Sgt. Michael Moore will act as assistant coach and handle the technical side of coaching.
“We at CSU have a world-class shooter in Sgt. Moore and our friendship with the (Army Marksmanship Unit) is going to help a lot in developing this program,” Green said. “(Moore) and I think alike, and with my experience with college sports and his experience with shooting, we should have a great team.”
Current men's golf assistant coach and sports information director Brian Padgett will coach the women's golf team. Padgett is in his ninth season as the men's assistant coach, and said he is looking forward to taking on his own team.
“I'm excited about the challenge,” Padgett said. “I've always like dealing with student athletes and I'm excited to get to work with something in the infant stages.”
The track and field teams will be coached by current men's and women's cross-country coach J.D. Evilsizer. They will likely use one of the existing high school facilities in the area.
Much of the track and field teams will be comprised of members of the cross-country teams, eliminating a problem for several athletes who like to compete year-round. Because of NCAA rules, individual runners may enter track and field events, but cannot compete as a team.
Many of the CSU runners do this, and the addition of an official team allows them to pool their resources and qualify for national meets.
“The biggest complaint from my team has been that they want to compete as a team at these events in the spring or they want to be able to qualify for the NCAA national championships,” Evilsizer said.
The rifle team will begin with 3.6 scholarships, the women's golf team will have 5.4, the women's track and field team will have 12 and the men's track and field team will have 11.
The track and field scholarship numbers are buoyed by NCAA rules that allow the university to count the scholarships already in place for the cross country teams. The women's cross country team has six scholarships and the men's cross country team has five that will carry over as part of the track and field counts.