Intercollegiate sports are coming to Gaston College
Gaston College is taking steps to start a new intercollegiate sports program.
College President Dr. John Hauser laid out plans in a presentation to Gaston College Board of Trustees on Tuesday to launch a college sports program that will offer men’s baseball and basketball, women’s beach volleyball and softball, and Esports. Approximately, 96 athletes, 52 men and 44 women, would participate in the five initial athletic programs that will contribute to social engagement and provide students opportunities to engage actively in student life for a holistic college experience.
The Gaston College Board of Trustees enthusiastically voted unanimously for Dr. Hauser to take the necessary steps to contact the National Junior College Athletic Association to establish the new college sports program. With the Board of Trustee’s approval, Dr. Hauser and the College’s administration will need to submit a letter of intent with the NJCAA. Pending approval, a search for an athletic director would be one of the next steps. Upon approval, the College will also be assembling a coaching staff to participate in selected 2021 non-championship events as a member of the NJCAA and will be eligible for championship competition beginning 2022.
Dr. Hauser told the Board, “Community colleges that offer sports regard the athletics program as an integral part of the educational experience.”
“Sports programs have proven to enhance and strengthen student life, diversity, student mental and physical health, and overall college unity. This is something we believe that our Gaston College students and the communities we serve in Gaston and Lincoln counties are looking forward to enjoy and support in many ways. The reputation and widespread college promotions offered by athletic activities is helpful in creating a dynamic and synergistic learning environment for all students.”
Dr. Hauser added, “As we began the process to put this plan and presentation together, one of our former students provided me with tremendous help and moral support. Leonard Hamilton, the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Florida State University and a Gaston College Alum, has graciously provided me with professional insight and advice regarding this new venture that will reignite sports at the College.”
Coach Hamilton, who was born and raised in Gastonia, played basketball for Gaston College back in the early 70s when the College had sports teams. Since then, he has won many awards and accolades including being named the 2020 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year.
The Gaston College Foundation will work to secure intercollegiate athletic scholarships, engage in community fund raising and events, and work hand-in-hand with the student athletes with community engagement events and activities to garner financial support for students. This heightened support and new direction will create and promote a sense of community that will offer “hands-on” involvement for Gaston College students. President Hauser shared that the College will engage alumni and the communities of Gaston and Lincoln counties to engage in support of intercollegiate athletics for Gaston College. He shared a variety of ideas for revenue generation to support athletics beyond student activity fees, bookstore revenues, and excess fees. This is standard practice for intercollegiate athletic programs at North Carolina Community Colleges.
Future plans include engaging faculty, staff and students regarding sports, including potential names for a mascot.