ATHENS — Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity is headed for retirement on Dec. 31, but not before finishing out the fall sports season, and not without opening up the floor to questions.
McGarity, along with University of Georgia President Jere Morehead, conducted a 45-minute Zoom interview session that turned into a free-for-all with questions coming from all directions from the various media outlets.
McGarity leaves Georgia with many great contributions and many fond memories, his favorite being how the 2019 home game with Notre Dame came together.
“The best was Notre Dame last year, in my mind,” McGarity said. “Kevin Butler and I were texting earlier about that experience. He and I were standing together in the West End Zone on the field, and you had the national anthem going, you had the flyover, just beautiful weather and the new lights.
“That day was so magical, I think all of us that were there knew everything came together in a perfect way. It was one of those times you shake your head and say ‘we need to remember this.’ It was the emotional I had ever been, being on the field and seeing it unfold.”
McGarity was also asked about a memory that will always be on the other end of the emotional spectrum for him, the termination of Mark Richt.
McGarity didn’t shy way, transparent as ever, providing a look into what an athletic director goes through when removing a coach, in this case a likely future College Football Hall of Famer.
Richt was 145-51 (83-37 SEC) during his 15-year tenure at Georgia, winning the SEC East on six occasions and not finishing lower than third in the division. Richt was fired after a 9-3 campaign in 2015, 10 years removed from the second of his SEC Championship Game titles.
Richt returned to his alma mater to finish his coaching career at Miami, going 26-13 over three seasons including a 10-3 campaign in 2017 that saw him win national coach of the year honors.
The former Georgia head coach now works as an analyst for the ACC Network.
Here’s what McGarity said when asked about how difficult it was to fire Richt:
“Those are the worst parts of our job, because it not only affects one person, it’s a whole network of people. I remember sitting in this office right here, and Mark was sitting right behind me. Carla (Williams) was with me, and it was 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning.
“Hell, I was very emotional, I had a hard time talking about Mark. I’m sitting across from someone who is without question maybe the greatest person you’ll ever meet. A person who is selfless, who is storied, the adoption of his children, my gosh, it’s so difficult.
“I really struggled with that, and it wasn’t easy to do, but that’s the tough thing about being in leadership positions. Sometimes it’s not the best thing for individuals, but you have to do what’s best for the institution and at that time I thought it was the right thing for us.
“But those are very difficult things and it’s no fun doing that, trust me. You don’t sleep the night before, and you dread it. But I thought things had to change. The jury will be out forever on those type of things, but that’s sort of the things happened during those periods of time.”
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Mark Richt talks Georgia, May 14, 2020