Georgia A.D. Greg McGarity clarifies new Jacksonville deal, recruiting proposal
ATHENS — Georgia negotiated a higher payout in securing a short-term extension to continue the annual rivalry game against Florida in Jacksonville.
DawgNation reported on Thursday the two key pieces to finalizing the deal involved the substantial increase in revenue, and a shorter-term for the extension.
Georgia will rake in $9 million in revenue over a two-year period by playing in Jacksonville.
A home-and-home series with the Gators would generate approximately $4 million in net revenue, per UGA athletic director Greg McGarity.
McGarity explained how the new two-year deal — which extends Jacksonville as the “neutral” site from 2021 to 2023 — is worth $1.2 million more than the previous deal.
The new deal has Georgia making $5 million more over two years than it would have playing a home-and-home.
Under the terms of the previous deal, over a two-year period the Bulldogs were making approximately $3.8 million more by playing in Jacksonville than they would have by playing a home-and-home series.
The No. 10-ranked Bulldogs play No. 7-ranked Florida this season at 3:30 p.m. next Saturday.
McGarity said the UGA athletic department is making a financially responsible decision in the interest of funding 21 scholarship sports by keeping the game in Florida.
The new deal includes an option for a two-year extension, worth an additional $250,000 to each school, annually.
But both schools would need to agree to the extension.
The City of Jacksonville generates more than $30 million in revenue annually from hosting the game.
The off-campus site, however, puts Georgia football at a recruiting disadvantage. The Bulldogs have only seven SEC home games to recruit to every two years, while other schools have eight.
McGarity said UGA will propose new legislation that would provide some recruiting flexibility at annual neutral site games.
“You wouldn’t have campus tours, but you could welcome them,” McGarity said. “The bottom line is there could be more variations.
“We’d like more flexibility to facilitate prospective student athletes.”
The timing of the Florida game, in late October-early November, falls at a crucial part of the recruiting calendar.
A new early signing date was added in December two years ago, amplifying the importance of in-season official visits.
Coach Kirby Smart has expressed concerns over punting away what would be the most valuable home recruiting weekend every two seasons.
“Our version of the LSU-Alabama game is held in Jacksonville and we don’t have prospects, so it’s not conducive to recruiting,” Smart said.
“It’s just not great for recruiting, because you lose a home game every other year and that just comes with it.”
McGarity said UGA officials will continue to look for ways to enhance Georgia’s home schedule at Sanford Stadium.
As things stand, Georgia Tech is the only non-conference Power 5 opponent scheduled to play in Sanford Stadium until 2026 when UCLA pays a visit.
“We don’t take Tech lightly,” McGarity said. “But we are always looking for ways to tweak and enhance our schedule.”
McGarity, speaking hypothetically, said Georgia would consider buying out one of its non-conference Group of 5 opponents if the right deal could be struck to bring in a more attractive Power 5 opponent.
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