ATHENS — Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity looked out his Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall office window and observed a solitary bus traveling down Lumpkin Street in the middle of Tuesday afternoon.
“That’s not usually what you see in the middle of the day during the spring semester,” McGarity said. “There are some dump trucks here on site, but there’s no traffic.”
And there was no football on what was supposed to be the start of the spring session for Kirby Smart and his Bulldogs.
The Southeastern Conference issued a statement earlier in the day that effectively ended all hopes for spring games, spring sports and any sort of organized campus activity.
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McGarity and the University of Georgia were ahead of the curve, already announcing the shutdown of activities on UGA campus.
“It’s amazing, this time last week we were heading to dinner and talking about the basketball tournament,” McGarity said. “One week later, everything is shut down.
“It just shows that to make an assumption about anything, including football next fall, is just irresponsible,” McGarity said. “We are totally depending on the health professionals and their advice, and we have a duty and an obligation to follow guidelines.”
The coronavirus outbreak hasn’t stopped the world from turning, but there’s a new tilt, and most all parts of society are looking to find an equilibrium, sports included.
Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s discussion with McGarity after the SEC officially shut down spring sports activities on all campuses:
Football building in progress
The dump trucks outside of McGarity’s window are a reminder there’s a bigger future ahead for Georgia football in the form of an $80 million building that’s under construction.
WATCH: Georgia football amps up work on state-of-the-art building
“The construction will move forward,” McGarity said. “There’s no one on campus, so the crews aren’t interacting. I’m sure like all construction firms they have their protocols in place.
“It’s a pretty desolate area on campus, other than on the job site itself.”
The three-story, 160,000-square foot building is scheduled to be finished in April of 2021, to be followed by a seven-month renovation phase to the supporting buildings around it.
More to the story
McGarity is the overseer of all of athletics, but he remains at the center of an academic environment that is dealing with a crisis of its own that will bleed over into sports.
“You have ACT and SAT tests that have been canceled, and prep classes for those tests that have been canceled,” McGarity said. “The learning environment has been turned upside down beyond the college level to K through 12. It’s such new territory for everyone, we’re trying to manage it as best as we can.”
While Georgia has essentially shut down campus, there are a few exceptions.
“All of the facilities we control are in lockdown except the training room and the academic center,” McGarity said. “We have a handful of student-athletes in Athens that are re-habilitating or in need medical attention, so we’re able to facilitate that.”
Looking to the future
McGarity certainly will not speculate, but it’s clear he has hope like everyone else football season can resume sooner than later.
“The worst thing we can do in athletics is be involved in any deadlines or timelines, that’s left up to the professionals,” McGarity said. “It’s our role to follow the directives to where we can defeat this virus and return to what we call normal.”