WACO, Ga. – West Georgia Technical College is taking the historic step of starting a football program to compete as a Division 1 member of the National Junior College Athletic Association. WGTC President Dr. Skip Sullivan made the official announcement at a press conference held Thursday night on the Murphy Campus in Waco.
“We are pleased to announce that we are adding a football program to serve our local communities, our area high schools, and the state of Georgia,” Sullivan said. “This is a major step for our college and we anticipate this will provide additional opportunities for high school athletes to continue their academic and football careers, and stay at home to do so.”
Sullivan also announced that WGTC Athletics Coordinator Walter Dunson will serve as head coach. Dunson prepped locally at Central of Carroll High School in Carrollton before moving on to Middle Tennessee State University and then the NFL, where he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 1993
“I am grateful for this opportunity to lead the WGTC football program,” Dunson said. “This is a great day for West Georgia Tech. We’ll work hard, we’ll build character, and we’ll do things the right way to represent our college and our local communities.”
The Golden Knights will play their home football games at Heard County High School in Franklin.
“We want to express our gratitude to the administration of Heard County High School,” Sullivan said. “We will embrace that community. We look forward to maintaining a partnership with them as well as all of our local high schools.
The first game will not take place until the Fall of 2014, but according to Dunson the process of building the foundation for the program will begin in the coming weeks and months.
The Golden Knights will begin installation practices in March of 2013 and will welcome its first freshman class next Fall.
WGTC joins Georgia Military as the only two two-year schools in the state to compete at the Division 1 level of junior college football. The Golden Knights anticipate scheduling games against GMC as well as two-year schools in North Carolina, Mississippi and Arkansas. The Knights will also likely play junior varsity squads from NCAA programs located in Georgia.
Early indications are that the general public will embrace the program. More than 125 people attended the press conference on Thursday.
College coaches such as Georgia’s Mark Richt and Georgia Southern’s Jeff Monken voiced support in letters to West Georgia Tech.
Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association Commissioner David Elder attended the announcement and delivered remarks on behalf of the conference.
“I want to commend Dr. Sullivan and Mr. Dunson for taking this step to bring football to West Georgia Technical College,” Elder said. “It’s a very positive thing that student-athletes in this state will have an opportunity to stay closer to home to go to school and play football.”
The recruiting process has already begun, as more than a dozen commits were in attendance at the press conference on Thursday.
"We will be a place where football players who aren’t academically eligible to compete for NCAA schools to come play,” Sullivan said. “We’ll also be a place where local talent can come here and play when they otherwise would have to go to faraway places to play football. We want to embrace to local communities and their fan bases.