Kennesaw State Owls
The Kennesaw State Owls fields 17 varsity athletics teams, competing for Kennesaw State University. After spending ten years in Division II's Peach Belt Conference, the university fully transitioned to Division I status in the National Collegiate Athletic Association at the beginning of the 2009–10 season. All of Kennesaw State's sports teams compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference, except for the football team, which is an associate member of the Big South Conference. The school mascot is Scrappy the Owl.
|Kennesaw State Owls|
|University||Kennesaw State University|
Big South (Football-only)
|Athletic director||Milton Overton|
|Football stadium||Fifth Third Bank Stadium|
|Basketball arena||KSU Convocation Center|
|Baseball stadium||Stillwell Baseball Stadium|
|Other arenas||Bailey Softball Complex|
|Mascot||Scrappy the Owl|
|Fight song||The KSU Fight Song|
|Colors||Black and Gold|
Kennesaw State's athletic department was founded in 1983, and initially offered nine sports: women's basketball, men's soccer, men's & women's cross country, and men's & women's track and field. The program first began competition in the Georgia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, part of the NAIA. In just 23 years, the school has transitioned to a full NCAA Division I program.
|Men's sports||Women's sports|
|Track and field†||Tennis|
|Track and field†|
|† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor|
In their short history, the Owls have had 32 players who have been drafted by MLB teams. Five of their alumni have reached the Major Leagues, including Jason Jones of the Texas Rangers, Chad Jenkins of the Toronto Blue Jays, Brett Campbell of the Washington Nationals, and Willie Harris, who earned a World Series ring with the Chicago White Sox in 2005, of the Cincinnati Reds. In 2014, Max Pentecost won the Johnny Bench Award as the best catcher in NCAA's Division I.
In 2009, six Kennesaw State players were selected in the MLB Draft. Chad Jenkins was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays with their first round pick (20th overall). Kyle Heckathorn was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers with their supplemental first round pick at 47th overall. Jace Whitmer (Oakland Athletics), Kenny Faulk (Detroit Tigers), Tyler Stubblefield (Atlanta Braves), and Justin Edwards (Cincinnati Reds) were also selected by MLB teams.
NAIA era (1984–1994)Edit
Kennesaw State's baseball team began play in 1984 as an NAIA program. Jim Nash was the team's first head coach, and led them to a 30-20 record. In 1985, the Owls hired John Barrett to act as head coach. In his only year, he took the team all the way to the NAIA District 25 Tournament with a 31-24 record. The following year, the Owls again hired a new coach, this time tabbing Chip Reese to lead the way. Coach Reese was with the Owls for 5 season (1986-1990). During his tenure with the Owls, they competed in the NAIA District 25 Tournament four times, and carried an overall record of 145-126-2. Steve Givens was the next Owls head coach in 1991, and in his only season the team went 35-25 and made yet another appearance in the NAIA District 25 Tournament. Starting in 1992, the Owls gained some head coaching stability with the hiring of Mike Sansing. The Owls experienced an immediate improvement when Sansing was hired, and finished the 1992 season with a record of 39-19, and an appearance in the NAIA Tournament. The first major success for the program came in 1994, when the Owls completed the regular season with a then school-high record of 48 wins. They then proceeded to go undefeated throughout the entire postseason (12-0), beating Southeastern Oklahoma State University in the NAIA World Series final.
Division II era (1995–2005)Edit
In the year following their NAIA Championship, the Owls moved up to Division II, and joined the Peach Belt Conference. The Owls adjusted to the competition, and won their conference with a 19-4 record (43-14 overall). The Owls also made it to the NCAA South Atlantic Regional after winning the Peach Belt Tournament with a 5-0 record. After their success in 1995, they followed it in 1996. Instead of getting stalled during the NCAA South Atlantic Regional again, the Owls beat Columbus State three game to one, and moved on to the NCAA Division II World Series in Montgomery, AL. During the World Series, Kennesaw State defeated Southern Colorado 9-3, Adelphi 8-7, Delta State 3-1, and finally, defeated St. Joseph's 4-0 in the championship game. Following their 1996 National Championship, Kennesaw had additional postseason appearances from 1997-2005. From 1997-1999, the Owls made three straight appearances in the Division II World Series, losing each time in the finals or semi-finals. During the 2000-2005 seasons, Kennesaw State racked up 238-112 record, and made the postseason five more times, with an appearance in the Division II World Series in 2003.
Division I era (2006–present)Edit
The program transitioned to Division I in 2006. They began play in the Atlantic Sun conference, and during the mandatory four-year reclassification period, the Owls notched 116 wins, two second place conference finishes and had eight players selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. In the 2011 campaign, the Owls had a big win when they defeated No. 8 Georgia Tech at Stillwell Stadium in front of 1,142 fans. In 2012, the Owls had their most successful postseason campaign in Division I, making it all the way to the A-Sun Championship game against Belmont where they lost 10-4. In the 2013 season, the Owls made it to the Atlantic Sun Championship again and were defeated by East Tennessee State University 7-2.
The 2014 season has been the best season for KSU baseball, by far. The Owls won their first A-Sun Championship in 2014 by beating Lipscomb 7-1. They then proceeded to their first NCAA Regional and won in Tallahassee. The Owls moved on to the Super Regional, but lost to Louisville in two games.
NAIA era (1985–86 to 1993–94)Edit
Beginning in the 1985-86 season, the Kennesaw State Owls basketball teams began play as an NAIA team, competing in the GIAC conference. The Owls were led by head coach Phil Zenoni during their tenure in NAIA, where they compiled a 145-122 record.
Division II era (1994–95 to 2004–05)Edit
Division I era (2005–06 to present)Edit
The Kennesaw State Owls basketball teams currently play NCAA Division I basketball in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The team was formed in the Convocation Center on the campus of KSU. The teams previously played in the Spec Landrum Center, which served as the home floor when the men won the NCAA Division II National Championship in 2004.
On April 20, 2011 Kennesaw State University officials named Lewis Preston as the Owls new Head Men's Basketball Coach. Preston, an assistant to Penn State's Ed DeChellis for the past three years, also served as an assistant to Florida's Billy Donovan when the Gators won the National Championship in 2007 and was a member of Mike Brey's staff at Notre Dame.
Preston took a leave of absence in January 2014 citing personal and medial reasons. Preston was replaced by Jimmy Lallathin on an interim basis for the remainder of the 2013-14 season. In March 2014 Lallathin was promoted to permanent head coach. After going 10-22 in his only season in charge of the program, Lallathin was reassigned within the athletics department and eventually removed as head coach as the result of an internal investigation.
On April 26, 2015 Kennesaw State reached an agreement with former National Coach of the Year and Boston College head man, Al Skinner to be their sixth head coach in program history. Skinner led the Owls to an 11-20 record in his first season but went 7-7 in conference for the first .500 conference record in Kennesaw State Division I history.
The Lady Owls have now been coached by Nitra Perry for four years, to date in the 2015-16 season. Perry began coaching in the 2012-13 season. The Lady Owls had their worst year in 2013-14, before having their most Division I wins in 2014-15.
Kennesaw State's men's cross country team is currently coached by David Poteet. In the 2009 season, the Owls finished first in five of their eight meets, including a first-place finish in their conference at the A-Sun Cross Country Championship. The men ended the 2009 season finishing eighth at the NCAA South Region Championship. The women's team finished first in four of their seven meets in the 2009 season. The women finished second in their conference at the A-Sun Cross Country Championship. The Cross Country team was also featured in an article of the September, 2010 issue of Running Times magazine.
In the 2010 season, the team made it, for the second straight year since being eligible for postseason competition, to the NCAA South Regional where they finished ninth.
The Kennesaw State men's golf team opened its fall season in 2011 with the first round of the Carpet Capital Collegiate Classic to finish in 12th place.
Kennesaw State started women's soccer in 2002. In their first year of competition the school finished 18-0-1 and earned a trip to the national tournament. The following year Kennesaw State won the Division II National Championship. 2004 was the start of the transition to Division I and during the 2006 season, the Owls won the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season title. After winning their second straight A-Sun title in 2007, the Owls made their first appearance in the NCAA Women's Soccer Championships, falling to Florida State, 3-0, in the first round.
On November 5, 2009 the KSU Owls defeated Jacksonville in overtime. This win put the Owls in the finals versus Belmont on November 7, 2009. In the finals, Jade Dempster found the net with a penalty-kick goal in the 87th minute lifting Kennesaw State to its second Atlantic Sun Women's Soccer Championship in three seasons with a 2–1 victory against Belmont. The Owls earn the conference's automatic bid to the 2009 NCAA tournament.
The Owls opened a new home in 2010. KSU and the Atlanta Beat of Women's Professional Soccer entered into a public-private partnership to build the new Kennesaw State University Soccer Stadium, now known as Fifth Third Bank Stadium, near the KSU campus. Both the Owls and the Beat play all their home games in the facility, which opened on May 2, 2010. The stadium was host to the 2011 NCAA Women's College Cup.
NAIA era (1983–1994)Edit
The softball program was founded in the Fall of 1983 by Gary Wiseman, with the intent to compete in both Slowpitch and Fastpitch. The program instead began as Slowpitch only, and lasted that way until 1990.
The Lady Owls began intercollegiate softball in 1985, with head coach Medra Ashmore leading the way. She led the Owls to a 75-24 record in her two-year tenure, and also captured the NAIA District 25 Championship in 1986.
In 1987, Scott Whitlock, a man who would become one of the all-time winningest coaches in NCAA history, began coaching the Lady Owls. In his first year with the Owls, Whitlock guided the team to a 36-5 record, and captured the Georgia Conference Championship. Whitlock had much of the same success in NAIA competition in 1989 and 1990 as well, leading the Owls to a 40-4 record in 1989 (winning the Georgia Conference Championship for the second year in a row), and a 33-2 record in 1990, where they captured their second NAIA District 25 Championship.
Following the 1990 season, the Owls made a seamless transition from competing in Slowpitch to Fastpitch. They went on to a 41-11 record in 1991 and made an appearance in the NAIA World Series that year. The following three years (1992-1994), the Owls dominated their conference again, with records of 46-8 (1992), 41-6 (1993), and 48-4 (1994). In their four years as a fastpitch NAIA program, the Owls appeared in the NAIA National Tournament every year, and also won the NAIA Tri-District 10 Tournament all four years as well.
The team joined the Peach Belt Conference in 1993, but did not keep a conference record and still competed in the NAIA postseason in the 1993-94 season.
NCAA Division II era (1995–2005)Edit
In 1995, the Lady Owls jumped from NAIA to NCAA Division II, where they competed in the Peach Belt Conference. In their first year of competition at the Division II level, the Owls posted a 53-5 record, en route to winning the NCAA Division II National Championship. They followed this performance in 1996, going 49-8, and won back to back NCAA Division II Championships.
From 1997-2005, the Owls made seven more appearances in the NCAA Division II World Series (1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005) and finishing as the runner up in 2000.
NCAA Division I era (2006–present)Edit
With all of their success in Division II, the Owls moved up to the NCAA's highest classification starting with the 2006 season and began competing in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
In their first year of Division I play, the Owls went 38–17 and tied for second in the Atlantic Sun. The following year (2007), they went 44–20 and captured the regular season Atlantic Sun Championship.
From 2008–2011, the Owls have combined to go 112–100, and have produced a winning record in every season except 2009.
Track and fieldEdit
The Kennesaw State track men's track team won the Indoor & Outdoor Conference Championships in 2008 and 2010. Formerly an assistant for Kansas State, Andy Eggerth was named the new head coach of Kennesaw State Track and Field in fall of 2010 and was named A-Sun Coach of the Year for 2011.
In the 2010 season, the volleyball team won nine out of 10 Atlantic Sun Conference matches, finished in second in the A-Sun, and had four student-athletes receive All-Conference Honors. Head Coach Karen Weatherington was named A-Sun Coach of the Year. The Owls flew into the A-Sun Championships, where a bye moved the Owls into the semifinals for the first time in program history.
Kennesaw State University President Daniel S. Papp and KSU Director of Athletics Vaughn Williams announced the addition of women's lacrosse as the university's 17th NCAA Division I championship sport, with intercollegiate competition beginning in the spring of 2013.
The Kennesaw State Owls women's lacrosse program will compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference, which will be sponsoring the sport for the first time beginning in 2013. The Owls have been members of the conference since the fall of 2005, with all 16 of Kennesaw State's existing varsity sports competing for A-Sun championships.
The addition of women's lacrosse at KSU fulfills a commitment made to the Atlantic Sun Conference when Kennesaw State joined the A-Sun in 2005, at which time KSU officials agreed to add a new sport to the Athletic Department's offerings. At the university's request, the A-Sun has granted KSU several delays, however now it is time for the university to begin launching the new sport.
Kennesaw State has considered adding a football team at various points in its history. Future plans for the school include a football stadium. The school has concluded a feasibility survey which affirmed it would be possible to have Division I football. On November 9, 2007, a survey was administered by Student Government with 77.6 percent of respondents voting in favor of starting a football program. Participation in the survey was supposed to be restricted to enrolled students only; however, due to a design flaw, anyone could take the survey an unlimited number of times.
Kennesaw State convened a football committee in late 2009, consisting of students, faculty, staff, alumni, business and community leaders, as well as friends and benefactors of KSU. The group, led by former University of Georgia football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley, provided a final report of its recommendations to KSU President Daniel Papp in September 2010.
The results of the report were released in a September 15, 2010 press conference, featuring Papp and Dooley, at the KSU Convocation Center. It was announced that the school would plan to launch a football program at the FCS level in 2014, with the team playing home games at KSU Soccer Stadium.
As of July 1, 2015, the KSU football program competes as members of the Big South Conference since the Atlantic Sun does not sponsor football; under the terms of an alliance between the two conferences, football-playing members of the Atlantic Sun will play as Big South members.
As a Division II school, Kennesaw State won five national championships in four sports: Baseball (1996), Men's Basketball (2004), Women's Soccer (2003) and Softball (1995, 1996). As a Division I NCAA school, Kennesaw State was the 2012 runner-up in the Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship. The Owls lost to Belmont 10-4.
- Kennesaw State University Athletics Style Guide (PDF). Retrieved April 9, 2017.
- Lutz, Jeffrey (June 26, 2014). "Kennesaw State's Max Pentecost wins Johnny Bench Award". kansas.com. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
- "Kennesaw State Cross Country DMG" (PDF). KSUOwls. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- "Owls Begin 2011 Season With a Rocky Start". KSUOwls. 2011-09-09. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- Ellis, Ralph (2010-04-15). "KSU hopes to raise profile with new soccer stadium". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
- "Kennesaw State To Host 2011 Women's College Cup". NCAA. 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- "Kennesaw State Women's Volleyball DMG". KSUOwls. Archived from the original on 2009-11-25. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- "Kennesaw State Women's Lacrosse". Bleheu. 2011-11-07. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
- "SGA survey goes live". KSU Sentinel. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
- Sugiura, Ken (September 15, 2010). "Kennesaw State plans to field 2014 football team". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved September 26, 2010.
- "Kennesaw State launches Football Exploratory Committee".
- "Kennesaw State University Officials Announce Results of Football Exploratory Committee". KSU. Retrieved 2010-09-23.