Changes for Kent State Athletics could come after signing day

Kaitlynn LeBeau on Vimeo.

In just a few weeks, high school student athletes will have to make a big decision: which schools they want to sign with. This doesn’t give them a lot of time to consider Kent State University’s athletic programs assessment – especially considering some students say they haven’t even heard about it.

Kent State hired a national consultant, Todd Turner of Collegiate Sports Associates, to perform an assessment of its athletics programs. The report could determine whether any sports will be cut and if the D1 school would have to move to a lower subdivision with schools like Youngstown State.

“I’d be afraid they’d find out with another opposing coach coming up to them and saying, ‘Hey, if you go there, this is all happening right now,'” said Ravenna Athletic Director Clint Fetty. “I think it would be great if just their coaches brought it up and said if you’re considering Kent, just FYI this is happening; it should be fine.”

Ravenna High School senior athletes Warren Bradley and Whitney Jones do not plan on playing for Kent State University. But if they did, they say they would like to be more in the loop about the assessment.

“This never came up or anything like that,” Warren said. “I would personally just like to know what’s going on.”

“I don’t even know what I would do so I would probably not even choose Kent State,” Jones said. “It would be completely out of the question if I heard that [the assessment].”

Warren, Jones and the other high school athletes who spoke with TV2 were not aware of the assessment. They said they think more information about it should have already been circulating the high schools as senior athletes are getting ready to commit to schools. National Signing Day is Wednesday, Feb. 5.

Warren, one of the top running backs in the Portage Trail Conference, said a few months ago he was considering Kent State. He plans to go in a different direction (for reasons not related to the assessment), but some of his fellow athletes are still looking at the university.

“I have a couple friends that are interested in Kent State, but once they hear this they’re probably going to be shocked to hear that and might have to go somewhere else,” Warren said.

Though this assessment does not come at a convenient time for seniors, there is no indication yet that there will be any major cuts to Kent State sports.

KSU isn’t the only school having to tighten the financial belt. The University of Akron is said to be undergoing a budget review. The University of Alabama-Birmingham was forced to cut its football program because of finances.

Yes, financial stress is a reason for Kent State to take a deeper look at its athletic budget which is currently $26 million. But it’s also not difficult to find a football highlight with a scarce crowd – attendance could be higher…

Especially when sports is a big recruiting tool; and not just for recruiting students as President Beverly Warren said at the Varsity “K” Hall of Fame induction.

“I am so proud of this athletics program,” President Warren said. “It was one of the features that attracted me to come to Kent State University.”

Kent State spokesman Eric Mansfield says the university expects the next report from the consultant by the end of this month or early February.

TV2 reached out to Kent State Athletic Director Joel Nielsen for comment but he was unavailable.

Contact Kaitlyn LeBeau at [email protected].