Charlie Cobb, who was formally introduced as Georgia State’s athletic director on Friday, was described as a “win-win” hire by GSU President Mark Becker because of his familiarity with the Atlanta market from his time working in the city in the mid-1990s as well as a wealth of experience he brings with facilities and fundraising.
Cobb, the former AD at Appalachian State, spent time answering questions from the media on Friday. Questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: How do you break through the Atlanta media market?
A: When you look at Appalachian and look at Georgia State, there’s a tremendous number of similarities.
You have a very populous, but very young alumni base. Appalachian has 105,000 alumni with an average age of 34. They are a very young, very energetic fan base. If you give them a reason to be supportive and engage them … there’s not a person we wouldn’t talk to, not a person we wouldn’t spread the message.
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There are enough people with Georgia State ties who want to see this university and this athletic department be successful. I think it takes engagement and understanding those dynamics. The media piece is important. We have to be out, we have to be relevant but we have to give people a reason to come to games. We have to create an experience that the casual fan would say, “This is something I’d really like to do.”
Big piece is our students. I love the idea of 4,000 students living on campus. We need to give them the opportunity to experience what a residential campus is all about. The others will come once they see the excitement and fun that’s coming from those kids.
Q: First task as AD?
A: Incredibly important that I listen. The conversations, I want people to see me for who I am, not what I am. It’s incumbent upon me to do likewise. I really need to understand the dynamic and culture here, not only in athletics but on campus. I want to listen to the coaches to tell me what they need and their expectations, and the administrative staff. Without their success, it’s a struggle.
Q: How do you describe your leadership style?
A: A leader makes others better. My goal is to create a vision, use stories, use experiences to shape that vision. I’m not swayed. I don’t panic. I want to put together a group of people with different thoughts. I like to think through things before reacting.
Q: What is your opinion on the “Power 5” ruling that may change the NCAA’s governance structure to give autonomy to the larger conferences?
A: There’s a tremendous amount still yet to be determined. Part of the conversation that gets missed is the budgets of the “Power 5” conferences have been significantly greater than the rest of Division I for a long time. There’s a tremendous amount of debate between what is good and what isn’t good. Anything we can do to take care of student-athletes from a welfare standpoint is critically important to all of us, whether you are Division I, Division II or Division III. I look forward to the discussions to continue.
Q: How would you describe Georgia State’s facilities compared to others in the Sun Belt?
A: A bigger piece of future of the program is to develop a strategic plan. One of the principles is to prioritize what we want to accomplish.
I’ve been to all (conference) schools (other than Louisiana Monroe), I feel we have room to grow. I feel a plan is a piece of that puzzle.
Q: Talk about Appalachian and Georgia Southern joining the Sun Belt and what that means to Georgia State.
A: I like the notion of rivalries. I like the opportunity to be able to create something. Georgia Southern-Georgia State is one of those traditions that can be created. There are hundreds of different ways we can do that.
One of the best messages I got was from (Georgia Southern AD) Tom Kleinlein. It said: “Welcome, now the war is on.”