Students returning to Peach Belt Conference schools this fall might feel as if they are at the wrong college.
Over half of the 11 Peach Belt schools changed their name over the summer. Some gained university status, while others just changed some punctuation.
Augusta State University led the way as five schools became universities. Still, most folks familiar with the school use the moniker "AC."
"It's getting better, and hopefully will get even better as the year goes on," said Augusta State sports information director Frank Mercogliano. "I would guess I get about one person per day (over the phone) who refers to us as Augusta College.
"But I promise you it's well-engrained to everyone here that we're Augusta State. I think everyone is excited about that new name."
Perhaps the most unusual name change belongs to Georgia College, which is now Georgia College & State University.
Georgia College didn't have the luxury of simply adding "State" because Georgia State already existed. Originally, officials at the Milledgeville, Ga., school proposed the name Atkinson State, after Susan Atkinson, the school founder and wife of William Atkinson, Georgia's governor from 1894-98. But many alumni disliked that name, and the current long-winded choice was finalized. In addition, a new mascot (currently the Colonials) and school colors (currently brown and gold) are being chosen.
The Colonials also added another interesting clause to their title.
"The ampersand is mandatory to have in the name," said Torye Hurst, the Peach Belt director of media relations.
Armstrong State College changed its name to Armstrong Atlantic State University to give the school a more regional title and influence.
Pembroke State, in Pembroke, N.C., switched to UNC Pembroke (no hyphen) to conform with the rest of the University of North Carolina system. Pembroke had been reluctant to change because of the Indian heritage in the town. UNC Pembroke was chosen because it could keep the tradition in the title.
Last year, USC-Spartanburg officially added a hyphen to its title to meet the standards of other schools across the country. USC-Aiken already had a hyphen in its name.
Expenses also had to be endured. At Augusta State, Mercogliano estimated it cost approximately $6,000 to change names on uniforms, stationery, business cards, etc. Many of the school's sports had new uniforms coming anyway, so that was an expected expense. The women's basketball team received new uniforms last season, so it will wear those, with just "Augusta" on the front, this season. The Augusta State PE Complex's basketball floor was due for a resurfacing, which costs approximately $7,000, so the new name was incorporated into the design without added expense. Most scoreboards didn't include the school name, so there was no change necessary there. The scorer's table will also soon be updated.
One of the last signs of Augusta College, which adorns the large marquee on Wrightsboro Road outside the basketball and athletic facility, will be changed sometime this season, said Mercogliano.
Don't think that it's that easy to become a university though. Each institution had to meet the criteria set forth by the state college board. Through that organization, university status is granted.
"When you look at the name, a university sounds bigger than a college," said Hurst. "It just gives them a greater status."
As the Peach Belt turns
Name changes in the Peach Belt Conference:
|Armstrong Atlantic State University||Armstrong State College|
|Augusta State University||Augusta CollegeState University|
|Columbus State University||Columbus College State University|
|Georgia College & State University||Georgia College|
|Kennesaw State University||Kennesaw State College|
|UNC Pembroke||Pembroke State University|