Football is the obvious addition, but according to athletic director Bill Popp, there’s a whole lot more going on.
Most of the changes are either directly or indirectly linked to the addition of football, but either way, the university’s campus in Waleska is going to look a bit different in the near future.
“Everything that is going on is pretty much because of football,” Popp said Friday during a breakfast with local business leaders.
The campus of 1,200 students includes more than 425 athletes, and that number is growing.
Popp said the school is enrollment-driven, so more athletes and more students are a good thing. Reinhardt recently built a new dormitory, which will house mostly football players.
“Obviously we have large rosters with our programs,” said Popp, who has been at Reinhardt since 2004, initially serving as its baseball coach as well before turning those duties over to John Ihlenburg in 2012. “With football and cheerleading, we now have 17 different sports. Those sports are all very full, and it’s nice to be like that.”
Popp said the university can’t add a new sport each year, but it is getting more attention through athletics, and that leads to an overall increase in enrollment.
Popp cites the marching band — which will add 50 to 60 students to the school — as an indirect result of football. Not only that, but the addition of a band has warranted an addition to the performing arts building that was already on campus.
“At some point, there were will probably be upward of 100 students in the marching band, and the music program has continued to grow,” Popp said.
The development of graduate studies and masters programs will continue the growth.
Track and field and wrestling are sports programs that Reinhardt has yet to offer, yet ones the university could consider adding in the future.
“We hear them all the time,” Popp said. “There is always going to be that next program out there.”
Pope said he takes into consideration the interest level of the community. He said that wrestling is an obvious choice of a sport to add, since all of the high schools in the county offer the sport at the varsity level, as o the vast majority of high schools in the state.
Likewise, many football players also compete in track and field, so it, too, would be a natural addition.
“There is a natural evolution to things,” Popp said. “We haven’t decided which way were are going to go with anything. We want to get this football thing going first before we add any more athletic programs.”