Georgia Director of Athletics Greg McGarity handed out a proposed map of the new facility, showing that it will adjoin the northeast corner of the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall complex addition and will extend northward alongside Rutherford Drive, which runs between Butts-Mehre and Foley Field, to the north end of the current upper grass practice field, which is adjacent to the Bulldogs’ lower turf practice field, the one nearest Stegeman Coliseum.
With the indoor facility coming flush up against the Butts-Mehre building, the present and smallish Nalley Multi-Purpose Room will either be razed or incorporated into the design of the new structure.
The Indoor Athletic Facility will be 104 yards long, 80 yards wide and 65 feet in height, which means the building won’t be high enough for Georgia’s punters to practice their craft when the team practices inside. Target date to begin construction would be January, 2016. Further information and funding plan are expected to be available at this year’s fall board meeting.
The athletic board, in this morning’s meeting, also approved a proposed budget for fiscal year 2016 of $117,419,039. The new budget represents a significant increase over the 2015 budget of $99,850,500 million.
It’s interesting that among the major increases in revenue that will support the activities of the athletic association is that of football ticket revenue. There is a projected $2.3 million increase in that category related to a $5 ticket price increase for the coming 2015 season.
In other transactions, the athletic board approved salary increases for both head men’s basketball coach Mark Fox and athletics director McGarity.
The two-year contract extension for Fox will extend him through the 2019-20 basketball season with annual compensation at $2 million plus a $150,000 per year longevity bonus which he would collect at the end of the 2020 season. “I am very pleased the board approved the extension today,” said McGarity. “And we are very appreciative of the leadership Mark provides to our basketball program. Mark continues to build on the solid foundation he has established as our head coach.”
The board also approved a two-year contract extension for McGarity which will go through June 30, 2019. McGarity’s salary will be increased by $25,000, giving him an annual salary of $575,000 and that will increase to $600,000 in the final year of his present contract.
McGarity was elated that the plans for the new Indoor Athletic Facility (UGA officials don’t want it to be called “practice facility”) are finally spinning into motion.
“The great thing about the location is that it fits everything we wanted to do on the front end,” he said. “If you ask Coach Richt, it’s his premium location because it connects to the building and is adjacent to the building. Regardless of where it was located, there were going to be challenges from a construction standpoint .. regardless of where it goes. So we felt like this was the best of the five locations. We eliminated the facility being off Milledge Avenue early on because of the estimates of what it cost and also, there’s not much flat land out there and you would have had to move a large amount of earth to create a flat surface there. So we had challenges all the way around but there have been challenges on this site dating back to 1999. But it is the best spot and we can now close the book on that topic and then continue to move forward in the architectural sense.”
McGarity said he’s not sure what will happen to the existing Nalley Room. “We don’t know how that’s going to work until we get the construction manager but that piece of property is going to become part of the new building.”
Also much discussed Thursday morning was the new Cost of Attendance legislation which allows each school to give athletes a yearly stipend for personal needs in addition to their normal scholarship funds.
The stipend, which goes into effect in August, could provide a couple thousand dollars extra per year to athletes, depending on their school’s cost of attendance number and which sports receive the additional money.
Since those stipends could have quite a bit of discrepancy in the amounts given from school to school − say Alabama gives $5,000-plus to the athletes while others give only $3,000 plus − Georgia will propose legislation on the matter at next week’s SEC spring meeting in Destin.
“That’s the ultimate goal, to make sure there are no recruiting advantages gained with cost of attendance because that was never the intent, to create that,” said McGarity. “It was an unintended consequence of the rule. So now that it’s there everybody is trying to figure out how to react to it. And so we’re proposing legislation that allows everyone to be transparent and be able to see how everybody is accounting for all the items that are in the different buckets, whether it’s the travel bucket or the miscellaneous bucket. So just understanding that from all schools, it’s going to be important because it’s almost a step-by-step process,” he added.
In other news from Thursday’s meeting:
− McGarity said due to the increase in revenue made available to the athletic association from the SEC Network, the association will give an additional $1 million back to the university. This would be in addition to the $4 million the association is already committed to giving back this fiscal year. President Jere W. Morehead indicated the $1 million would serve as the lead gift in the University’s new Experiential Learning Initiative.
− McGarity noted that the emergence of the SEC Network is a remarkable story within itself and the network now reaches 65 million homes.
− No longer will the Bulldogs have to bus to Atlanta for flights to out-of-town games. Due to improvements at the Athens airport, there will be two Delta flights transporting the team and equipment to away games. Senior Associate Athletic Director of Communications Claude Felton said being able to fly out of Athens will easily save more than two hours travel time, considering the time by bus to Atlanta and back and the time it takes for the team to go through the turnstiles at Atlanta-Hartsfield. “The only time we would still fly out of Atlanta would be for a west coast game or something,” noted McGarity, “due to refueling.”
− McGarity expressed much satisfaction over the athletic association’s new contract with Nike, which included a $1 million bonus.
− Carla Williams, executive associate AD for student services, said in addition to the new Cost of Attendance stipends the UGA athletes will receive, there will also be a “Grab and Go” operation set up, where the athletics will have access to food and snacks, both morning and night, to take with them as they move about campus. There will also be two training tables at lunch provided in the Georgia Center along with an after-practice meal.
− McGarity said the planned improvements for Sanford Stadium are going forward, in particular renovation of the concession and restroom areas so as to prevent the long lines that have been problematic in the stadium in recent years. Especially, said McGarity, there have been problems in the 100-level for a long time and that will be remedied. Also, the entire stadium will undergo a complete cleaning as the athletic association works diligently to better customer service.
− McGarity said he’s very proud of the appearance of the Bulldogs’ baseball facility, Foley Field, after the recent renovation.
− The athletic director revealed that of the 21 sports teams the university fields, 12 of them will finish with a top 10 national ranking this season. “We had a couple of programs underachieve this year,” he said, “but they’re on the road to recovery with good recruiting and we think we have the right leadership in those programs.”
− Faculty Athletics Representative David Shipley presented the academic report which included the recent 3.06 grade point average achieved by all student-athletes for spring semester—the highest GPA on record for one semester. It also represents the fifth consecutive semester the overall GPA of all student-athletes has been 3.0 or better. He also noted that two UGA student-athletes will be honored with the two highest SEC awards during next week’s league meetings. Swimmer Maddie Locus will receive the H. Boyd McWhorter Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor while football player Chris Conley will be the recipient of the Brad Davis Award for outstanding community service.
− Former UGA and New Orleans Saints football player Jon Stinchcomb of Lawrenceville and Judge Lisa Wood of Brunswick were also nominated and approved as new members of the Board of Directors. They will replace Swann Seiler of Savannah and Mack Guest of Athens who were approved as emeritus members.
− Gymnast Mary Beth Box and track and field athlete Kisean Smith were approved as the new student-athlete representatives to the Board.