ATHENS – In the face of concerns that it is merely a rubber stamp for UGA’s administration, the school’s Athletic Board passed some changes on Friday aimed at giving individual board members more power.
The reforms passed at Friday’s regularly scheduled meeting, are aimed at adding some transparency and giving the board a bigger voice. The criticism has been that UGA’s Athletic Board was only there to sign off on whatever the administration wanted, rather than a source of feedback and discussion.
Board members were given the power to suggest their own items on the agenda for each of the board’s three annual meetings. The agenda items still have to be approved by the executive committee one week before the full board meeting.
“This is a good step forward to make clear the two-way open communication that should exist,” said board member Janet Frick, a faculty member of the board. “It formalizes the two-way nature, that members of the board can bring ideas forward as well.”
Mike Raeber, the university’s general counsel, told the board Friday the changes will “formalize” what was already what was essentially in effect.
Some board members have occasionally been surprised at the magnitude of the proposals presented to them at the meetings. For instance, back in February the $63 million west end zone project was sprung on board members – at least those not on the facility committee – and within minutes they were asked to vote on it. As Frick put it in May: “The flow of information is going in one direction.”
Frick’s hope is that changes with Friday’s action, which also outlines how proposals first go before sub-committees, thus allowing them to be seen by the full board prior to the meeting.
“This reflects a distribution of power and voice on the board,” Frick said. “It’s a nice way to see it formalized.”
Specifically, a bylaw that was introduced on Friday states this in part:
“Any voting member of the Board may submit proposed agenda items to the Chairperson at least three before a regular meeting. In consultation with the Director of Athletics, the Chairperson shall consider any proposed agenda items submitted by Board members and develop a proposed agenda for the regular meeting.”
The board includes 19 voting members: the school president (Jere Morehead), the provost (Pamela Whitten), the vice president for finance (Ryan Nesbit), the faculty rep (David Shipley), six faculty members, seven at-large, the sitting president of the UGA alumni association, and a full-time student.
The athletics director, Greg McGarity, technically does not have a vote. But he sits at the head of the table during the three annual board meetings, which Morehead leads.
Jon Stinchcomb, the former Georgia and NFL offensive lineman, has been a member of the board for several years. He is the only former Bulldog football player currently on the board.
Notre Dame reaction
During his opening remarks to the board, Morehead remarked that UGA fans “showed a national audience” the “passion” of the fan base. Morehead also said the fans played a “key role.”
“It truly was a great weekend for the University of Georgia,” Morehead said.
McGarity told the board they were in the early stages of planning for six indoor tennis courts. McGarity estimated the cost could end up being anywhere from $10-$25 million.
UGA has been a mainstay host of the NCAA tennis championships, including this year. But the NCAA passed over Athens when it awarded sites this year, and the soonest they could return is 2023.
This story will be updated.