By ASHLEY OWENS
President Benson conducted a Campus Forum on Athletics Thursday, April 3 in Brock Auditorium. The forum put an emphasis on Eastern’s Athletic Department and what the department has in store for its future. Benson spoke about what changes may possibly be made concerning Eastern’s athletic department and how those changes would impact Eastern’s campus.
A major point of discussion was the potential switch from Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Benson recently showcased this idea in front of Eastern’s Board of Regents and said no decisions have been made on the subject. In fact, he said making a move into the FBS is invitation-only, and Eastern has not received an invitation so far.
“We’re only preparing ourselves in case the invitation comes up,” Benson said.
These preparations include fresher sports facilities around campus, such as a new gym floor and new lighting in McBrayer Arena. Some preparations, including lights for Eastern’s softball and baseball fields and new video boards for the football stadium and McBrayer Arena, have already been made.
Benson also mentioned benefits to making such a monumental move with Eastern’s football program. Not only would a switch to the FBS spark an increase in media coverage, but it would also give Eastern a greater reputation.
“Because we’re not in FBS people often, to misquote George W. Bush, underestimate where we are within the athletic landscape,” Benson said.
A higher image is thrown onto a university when the athletics reputation is higher, Benson said.
Another point Benson used was the uncertainty of FCS, which he said is growing and leaves FCS members wondering what will come of their athletic departments years down the road.
“What will happen to FCS? No one can predict,” Benson said. “But it’s becoming, I would argue, less and less relevant.”
Then Benson talked money. To pay for this move, he said student fees were a possible route. But at this point, fees are still in discussion.
“We have no current athletic fee at EKU for students,” Benson said. “We are talking about phasing this in if we make the move.”
Benson ended his discussion by stating no decision has been made on the matter, but there would hopefully be more discussion on the move.
“This is one of those leaps of faith you would have to take collectively,” Benson said.