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Georgia Southern looks at next step to move to I-A
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Georgia Southern is a step closer to finding a firm to conduct its Football Bowl Subdivision feasibility study, athletic director Sam Baker said Monday afternoon.

Last Thursday GSU issued a request for proposal through State Purchasing, and the school’s currently waiting to receive bids from interested businesses.

“We’ve put it out on the docket for companies,” Baker said. “It’s in the works.”

Issuing the RFP is an early step in a process that began in November when Georgia Southern president Dr. Bruce Grube authorized hiring an external firm to examine upgrading the Eagles from the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) to the FBS (previously I-A).

“It’s just hit the street, and one of the first things anybody that’s interested has is the opportunity to file questions,” said George Horn, Georgia Southern’s director of procurement and contract services, who is the liaison between the school and the procurement officer/buyer assigned to the university’s RFP by the state purchasing office.

The period during which questions can be submitted ends Feb. 22, and assuming there won’t be any issues causing unforeseen delays, proposals are due March 18. At that time, a small evaluation committee will examine the bids and create scores based on technical and cost evaluations of the firms. Technical scores look at a company’s background, experience and references as well as the knowledge of the personnel assigned to the GSU project. Georgia Southern is also asking bidders to submit a copy of a completed study.

“It’s not just simply a bid that goes to the lowest responsible bidder — there are other things that come into play,” Horn said.

Once the bids and scores are in, Horn will work with the buyer at the State Purchasing office to decide on the best company for the long-awaited project.

“Depending upon if there are any problems — whether or not we need to go back and negotiate with the vendor — then we anticipate making an award approximately two to three weeks after (the March 18 deadline),” Horn said.

“Again, that’s assuming there are no problems.”

The State Purchasing office, a division of the Georgia’s Department of Administrative Services, handles certain large-dollar buys for state agencies and institutions under the University System of Georgia. The office’s goal, according to its Web site, is “to promote equal access and competition among vendors to ensure that best value, high-quality goods and services are available to state and local governments and non-profit organizations.”

State Purchasing conducts buys through the RFP process, which considers quality and price when obtaining the best overall value for state government.

“We’re moving forward and are very much looking forward to getting somebody on board to start taking a look at it,” Horn said.

A move to the FBS, or at least a study of it, has been a popular topic among the Georgia Southern community since Erk Russell revamped the program in the early 1980s. If GSU decides to make the leap, it wouldn’t happen until August 2011 at the earliest because of a four-year NCAA moratorium enacted last August that sealed off Division I to new members and halted any movement between its subdivisions.