University of West Georgia Director of Athletics Jason Carmichael was the guest speaker at last week’s Carrollton Kiwanis Club meeting, and within his talk, he gave some updates on UWG’s upcoming transition to NCAA Division One.
Included in this was a recent development that UWG football will be opening the season at home against a certain set of Bulldogs, but not the kind from Athens.
“We will be opening with Samford in University Stadium on August the 31st,” Carmichael said.
Ever since the move to Division One was announced, the public has had questions for Carmichael on when UWG might meet up with Georgia’s two largest institutions — Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia. Regarding that idea, Carmichael said one of the first actions he took when he knew the move was official was to reach out to both schools.
“The question I get the most often after the transition is, ‘When are we playing UGA?’ or ‘When are we playing Tech?’”said Carmichael. “And one of the first probably five emails I sent after we announced officially what we were doing was I sent [UGA Athletic Director] Josh Brooks an email and said, ‘Hey Josh, we’re just a couple hours away. We’d love to play you guys at some point.’ Same thing with [Georgia Tech Athletic Director] J Batt at Tech.”
Although these matchups have not been finalized, Carmichael says they will keep pushing for those kinds of opportunities, and the matchup with Samford was one result of these efforts.
In addition to the football schedule updates, Carmichael even spoke on how he had to be convinced that moving up to Division One was the best choice for himself and the university.
“I am a Division-Two guy by background,” he said. “I did not come here to see us transition to a Division-One institution. That was not on my to-do list.”
Carmichael said he has sat on the Division-Two Athletic Directors Association board for three years now, saying he was fully “drinking the Kool-Aid” for Division Two.
“I had to be convinced personally that [Division One] was where we needed to go,” said Carmichael.
Once the decision was made final as the university signed to join the Atlantic Sun Conference back in September, Carmichael says the main questions he received from the public were those asking when UWG’s athletic programs would get to play other schools in the southeast — some of which are old rivals, and others whom the Wolves have rarely if ever met in an athletic space.
“Those of you that have been long-time fans of West Georgia and who have went through all the name changes and most of the time it’s been in the Gulf South Conference know that the league itself has changed a lot over the years — we used to have North Alabama in there just as one example,” said Carmichael.
This rivalry will be renewed next Sept. 28 when the Wolves take on the Lions for the 36th time in program history. UWG and UNA last played in 2017 in Carrollton.
Carmichael also says he has heard stories about how UWG used to play Jacksonville State, Kennesaw State and other such schools that have since made the jump to Division One. With UWG’s jump to Division One set to go into effect next July, the Wolves will have the opportunity to renew these local rivalries sometime in the near future.
As for the upcoming year, however, so far UWG has the Samford game lined up as well as a full United Athletic Conference schedule that includes eight games, including four games in Carrollton and four road games across four different states.