A one-year contract extension for J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity and the approval of a fiscal year 2021 budget of $149.4 million were the highlights of the University of Georgia Athletic Association Board of Directors spring meeting today. Contrary to previous meetings, Thursday’s gathering was held as an online video conference because of social restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a brief discussion in executive session, the Board voted unanimously for the one-year contract extension for McGarity. A similar one-year extension was approved in February of 2019.
‘’I’m just very happy that Greg has agreed to stay on this year,’’ said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. ‘’I think particularly now, with all that we’re going through — in this country and in intercollegiate athletics — with all the challenges that we’ve faced, Greg’s experience and having that continuity is really good for UGA at this time. So I appreciate his willingness to serve.’’
For McGarity, who has served in his position since August of 2010, the athletic directorship has always been much more than a job, particularly now in today’s times of massive change.
‘’I’ve always looked at this job as serving my alma mater,’’ he said. ‘’I also felt like consistency is really important right now, and I’m respectful of the President’s time. My gosh, with everything he has to deal with on the campus as a whole, I certainly didn’t want our situation to be a part of that concern at this time. Both my parents went to the University of Georgia. They both worked at the University of Georgia. My wife and son graduated. I have a lot of respect for this institution and what it’s meant to our family. So it’s a big deal for me personally to serve in this role and to help us navigate these difficult times.’’
The approved budget figure of 149.4 million represents a decrease of just over $4 million from the current fiscal year, which concludes at the end of June. When presenting the budget, McGarity noted that a number of contingency plans had been prepared by the Association’s financial officers. Many issues that will affect revenue totals remain undecided, most notably the number of spectators that will be allowed to attend the Bulldogs’ football games.
‘’As we learn more in the coming weeks, we could need to make adjustments to this budget,’’ he said. ‘’A lot depends on where football is and how it’s affected, with the definition of ‘mass gatherings’ and what we’re able to do. As we learn more, we’ll be able to make some announcements and project revenue a little bit more. We’re fortunate here, but your reserves can’t sustain you forever. It certainly helps us in the short term, being as whole as possible but also realistic as possible with conditions that are on campus and among our peer groups.’’
As part of McGarity’s report, Senior Deputy Athletic Director Josh Brooks gave an update on the progress of the Butts-Mehre expansion project. The Butts Mehre building has served as the administrative center for the Athletic Association, as well as the operational hub for the football program, since 1987. The latest expansion, at an estimated cost of $80 million, began in January and will add a greatly expanded weight room, locker room, meeting rooms, coaches’ offices and sports medicine facility, as well as a number of other improvements for the football program. Construction for the first phase is expected to be completed by April of 2021.
The expansion project, according to Brooks, remains on schedule — despite a rainy winter and spring, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic — and within budget.
Also included on the agenda was a glowing academic report from Faculty Athletics Representative, Prof. David Shipley. Highlights of Shipley’s report included:
• Despite the mid-semester move to all-online instruction, Georgia’s student-athletes turned in a 3.34 overall grade point average for Spring semester. That number is believed to be an all-time best, as is the 3.13 GPA recorded for the entire 2019-20 academic year.
• All 11 women’s teams posted a grade point average of 3.3 or above this spring, led by a 3.68 from the largest squad of them all, the Equestrian team at 68 members. The tennis team led all male squads with a 3.60 GPA. Football had its best semester ever at 3.03.
• The cross country teams turned in the top two GPAs for the entire year, with the women’s squad at 3.58 and the men at 3.45.
• Georgia’s baseball, women’s golf and volleyball teams were cited by the NCAA for their outstanding Academic Progress Rates. All three had marks that ranked in the top 10 percent nationally in their respective sports.
• Placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship became the first UGA football player since current Athletics Board member Jon Stinchcomb in 2002 to earn an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
Other items covered on the Board’s agenda included the following:
• A report by Shipley from the Student Wellness Committee.
• Reports from outgoing student representatives Will Harper, Walker Higgins, Sabrina Vega. The latter two, both student-athletes, expressed their thanks to the UGAAA support personnel who aided in the transition to online learning in April.
• Announcement of new student-athlete representatives for 2021: football player Kearis Jackson, a redshirt sophomore from Fort Valley, and soccer player Caroline Chipman, a senior from Atlanta. The board was also presented with three candidates to fill the remaining student representative post.