Georgia AD Greg McGarity tackles racial awareness issue, COVID-19 fallout

Georgia athletics
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity made racial awareness his top priority when addressing the board of directors on Thursday.

ATHENS — Before talk turned to hundreds of millions of dollars associated with the University of Georgia athletic budget, tens of thousands of pounds of steel going into a new football facility, and ramifications of a global pandemic, Greg McGarity had a more important issue to table.

Racial awareness.

“We must come to grips with the social issues that are present, and commit to doing all within our power to be part of the solution that direly needs our focus and attention,” McGarity said in his opening statement at the UGA board of directors meeting on Thursday.

“Racism, hatred and bigotry have no place anywhere, and it continues to be our responsibility to foster an environment of trust, inclusion, understanding and action.”

McGarity, whose contract as athletic director was extended another year by school president Jere Morehead on Thursday, explained that racial awareness is the top priority.

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“That was my first order of business because it’s an important issue, and it commands that level of attention,” McGarity told DawgNation on Thursday night.

“We want to make sure it was first and foremost in our thoughts, and it was more important than anything else we were going to say.”

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McGarity tackled other issues following the board of directors meeting held Thursday via Zoom.

Do you anticipate a full football season?

Greg McGarity: “If we have a successful June, I think it sets us up well for July. That’s why I think these next four weeks are going to be critical to see how each campus is handling the spread of the virus.

“You know, we can only have our arms around these young men while they’re here for voluntary workouts. What they do when they leave our building — I mean, we’re very confident they’ll adhere to all the protocols that are in place, because that’s just as important as them coming in our building.

“But it’s going to be important what happens when they’re not under our guidance. I just feel really good about it because these young men really want to play the season, and they’re going to do everything that can to do their part.”

Will there be a quarantine period when coaches begin to supervise football activity?

Greg McGarity:  “I think the way things stack up right now, you’ll have this voluntary period now up until you start countable, athletic-related activity. So much of the testing will be done now. If we continue with that population, what we’ve got to gear up for is every other sport.

“Our largest student-athlete population will be back in the fall, or in July, for practice. We also have soccer and volleyball, basketball and cross country. So this is an important time for us to see how we do.

“It’s kind of a test for us on our effectiveness and our efficiency, because we’re, what, 125 young men all total with walk-ons and what-not, but we’ve got over 525 student-athletes … there’s a lot of heavy lifting to do. The important work starts right now.”

A $149.4 million budget was approved, is there a Plan B if games are canceled? Will ticket money and donations be refunded ?

Greg McGarity:  (On the alternative budget issues)  it’s all dependent on the definition of mass gatherings, if it’s 50 percent occupancy (at the stadium), or 25 percent, or everybody can come.  We just don’t know. We’ll know more at the end of this month, and we’ll know a lot more by August 1st. At some point in time, we know we have to be very clear in communicating what our plan will be.

“But that’s not important today. That will come into play in the next couple of months. We don’t really need to go in that direction right now because our first home game is not until September.

“(On the ticket refund question), Yeah, I think it’ll be consistent with baseball (refunds) as far as that, though we were into the (baseball) season. We would honor those requests in the event we had to go in that direction. That’s included in our projections and everything, the what-ifs and what might happen, so we can at least have an idea what to look for when and if that happens.”

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