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Changes Expected at UWG With Move to Division 1

Carrollton, GA – After decades of being a part of Division 2 and the Gulf South Conference, The University of West Georgia is officially moving to Division 1 and joining the Atlantic Sun Conference. All of UWG’s athletic teams will be able to compete at the Division 1 level, and stakeholders will even see some new and returning sports. This exciting move raises questions about how thousands of regular students on this campus will be affected. 

With such a huge change, one would expect tuition and other fees to increase. The University of Southern Indiana revealed that student fees would increase by $475 per year to fund athletic expenses as it becomes a full-time Division 1 member in 2025. 

However, UWG students do not have to worry and can rest assured that their athletic fees will stay the same, guaranteed.

“The athletic fees that students invest in so that we can have experiences like that will not go up,” says Dr. Brendan Kelly, president of the UWG. “It’s going to be the same fee that was two years ago, that’s going to be paid into the future.

“We’re really utilizing the new diverse set of revenue streams that will be available to us to be able to make all of this work,” continues Kelly.

Along with the unaffected athletic fees, the price of student tickets for games won’t change. Student tickets are free and will remain as the university moves to Division 1.  

Although student fees and ticket prices are not changing, there are bound to be changes beyond athletics. How will this affect the university academically?

“It elevates everything at the university,” says Kelly. “When we’ve seen other institutions elevate in the collegiate athletic space, it has reverberated throughout every other aspect of the institution. I anticipate that is exactly what’s going to happen here,” continues Kelly.

As for new courses or programs becoming available, it would not be a direct result of UWG’s move to Division 1, but rather a direct result of the elevation of expectations for UWG and the world’s expectations of UWG. With a move like this, the university should find itself with an influx of new revenue. 

“The revenue that comes in from those new revenue streams is to support the athletic enterprise. But what it does is decrease the institutional support for the athletic enterprise,” says Kelly. “This does allow us to take one piece of our economy, our athletics enterprise, and really put it into more stable and sustainable ground moving forward.”

Along with an influx of new income, schools that move from Division 2 to Division 1 see an increase in enrollment. Queens University of Charlotte, a school in the ASUN conference, saw a 30% increase in new student enrollment for the fall 2023 semester after its announcement to move to Division 1. 

“I hope that we do see more students who want to clamor to come to UWG,” says Kelly. “We certainly want more and more students to experience the wonderful things UWG has to offer.

The University of West Georgia has already seen a 15% increase in enrollment this fall semester. If enrollment does increase on top of increases there are further concerns of accommodating that influx. 

“We are the second largest campus physically in the University System of Georgia,” says Kelly. “We have capacity for more students at this institution.”

“However, we need to note that in a modern environment, education is delivered in a wide variety of different modalities,” continues Kelly. “So, you might see an increase in enrollment but that doesn’t necessarily increase physical students on campus.”

This is a very exciting and important change for UWG. There is a chance that not all students will be happy about it. Students currently enrolled at UWG applied to a Division 2 school, and some of them may like UWG just the way it is. It’s up to the university to help students feel like their school isn’t changing too much.

“I am a public university president, so I always expect at least someone to be unhappy with anything that we do,” says Kelly. “People find change hard, that’s true in any aspect of our lives. Times change, life changes and that’s true for a university too. 

“Change is hard, and we acknowledge that change is hard. I always try to be empathetic to the fact that as things shift around there’s going to be some folks who are distressed by that,” continues Kelly. “I do believe that when you make good decisions, they create good products and outcomes in the future.”

Despite some people’s initial hesitance to the university’s Division 1 move, the university is confident that everyone will be on board once they see how the decision was made for the greater good of our institution.

The University of West Georgia’s move to Division 1 is a great opportunity for students and student-athletes. It will open doors for everyone, and it’s only a matter of time before UWG and it’s community see all the positive change. 

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