Amid enthusiastic cheers and the waving of green and white pom-poms, Georgia Gwinnett College President Daniel J. Kaufman officially welcomed the college”s first athletics director, Dr. Darin Wilson, at a recent news conference.
As part of the festivities, Kaufman presented Wilson with his first official GGC ball cap.
Wilson comes to GGC from Union College in Barbourville, Ky., where he served as the athletics director since 2003, following a five-year stint as baseball coach. His departure brings an end to 18 years of involvement with Union College, from an undergraduate student-athlete to leading the athletics program. He said it was an emotional decision to leave, but he”s excited about the new challenge ahead of him.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to build an athletics program from the ground up,”# Wilson said. “I am most excited to develop a program that will be integrated with GGC”s emphasis on learning and leadership. This program will be conducted with the highest level of integrity, putting academics first while competing for championships in all sports.”#
Wilson”s time as athletics director at Union College has been marked by success. He is a three-time Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) Athletic Director of the Year (2008, 2009 and 2011), and he was also named the 2009-10 Under Armour AD of the Year for the Southeast Region in the NAIA by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. In 2009-10, Union College won its first AAC Duard Walker All-Sports Trophy. He serves as vice president of the AAC.# Wilson has a Ph.D. in higher education leadership from Capella University in Minneapolis, Minn.
During Wilson”s tenure as athletics director, the school”s teams won 37 AAC regular-season and tournament championships, four Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference titles and six NAIA Region XII championships.
Wilson plans to continue his winning record at Georgia Gwinnett, which intends to apply for membership in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
“The Grizzlies will be competitive across the board, including on a national level, very quickly,”# Wilson said. “Our coaches will motivate and inspire our athletes be the best they can be, which includes helping them to grow and develop personally. I plan to move quickly in hiring great coaches and organizing our program so we can be ready to field competitive teams next year.”#
Wilson also was instrumental in upgrading Union College”s athletics facilities by installing synthetic sports turf on the college”s football/soccer field, remodeling training facilities and providing new scoreboards at all venues. He has arrived at GGC in time to have significant influence over the development of its first athletics facilities.
“There is no doubt that Darin is the right person to kick start the Grizzlies” new intercollegiate athletics program, and we are truly excited to have him join the Georgia Gwinnett team,”# Kaufman said. “Varsity sports will enhance the college”s vision of a fully integrated educational experience. Students who are engaged in college stay in college, and this new level of athletics will provide even more incentive for students to get involved, stay in school and graduate.”#
The intercollegiate athletics program will add yet another dimension to student life at the rapidly-growing institution, providing opportunities for personal growth and wellness through physical competition and activity.# GGC is committed to a philosophy of total personal development. A complete athletics program including these new varsity sports, along with club sports and intramurals, offers all students an opportunity to develop skills in teamwork, leadership and other key areas.
Kaufman appointed an intercollegiate athletics task force in 2010 to explore the feasibility of initiating a varsity sports program. The task force explored financial and other resource considerations and made program recommendations. The following sports were selected based on student interest, gender equity, facility requirements and potential community interest:
2012-2013 – Men”s baseball, men”s soccer, men”s tennis, women”s soccer, women”s softball and women”s tennis
2013-2014 – Possible sports include men”s basketball, women”s basketball and women”s volleyball
GGC students and the University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved an athletics fee to be used to fund the programs. Additional funding will be provided through private support. Construction of athletics facilities, also based on an already approved fee, could begin within weeks, pending approval by the Board of Regents.
“Our athletics program will add engagement opportunities for our campus community, as well as the community at large,”# said Kaufman. “I can think of no better place to build an intercollegiate athletics program than in Gwinnett. This region has the resources, the interest and the enthusiasm to support and champion a collegiate program. We look forward to many years of hearing our students, friends and neighbors cheer, “go Grizzlies!”#