Georgia set for $55 million budget shortfall, tailgating in question
ATHENS — The Georgia athletic department budget will have a shortfall of $55 million in net revenue in the 2021 fiscal year, according to UGA athletic director Greg McGarity.
McGarity speaking on the UGA Athletics Board of Directors fall Zoom meeting on Friday, said the Bulldogs would dip into their reserve fund, which had more than $100 million available through various resources this spring.
Georgia, like most every other major athletic program in the country, has seen its revenue take a hit on account of the reduced attendance and shortened schedule triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
McGarity indicated UGA’s financial losses were to be expected with stadium capacity reduced to 20 to 25 percent, and the schedule cut down from 12 games to 10.
“While this is in line with many of our SEC peers, these estimates could change depending on adjustments to the current plan for the 2020 football season,” McGarity said. “But we are confident we can absorb any deficit by continuing with current cost containment measures, utilizing a portion of our reserves and potentially using the short-term loan currently in place.
“Formal adjustments to the (fiscal year 2021) budget will be reviewed somewhat in time during the next several months.”
McGarity revealed Georgia’s Magill Society, founded in Sept. of 2015, has helped keep the wheels turning in the Bulldogs’ quest to compete on the faculties front.
“We’re nearing the $150 million mark for the Magill Society, and closing in on $60 million dollars (raised specifically) for the Butts-Mehre expansion,” McGarity said, expressing gratitude to the program’s donor group.
Georgia has poured more than $170 million into facilities since Coach Kirby Smart was hired before the 2016 season.
Smart, entering his fifth season, has won three consecutive SEC East Division titles and is 8-4 against Top 10 ranked teams during his tenure.
Josh Brooks, Georgia’s senior deputy athletics director, reported on the Zoom call that the Butts-Mehre expansion — in the form of an $80 million football building — remains on track to be completed by spring of 2021.
Brooks said more than 35,0000 man hours have gone into the project, with no accidents. There have also been no delays, even as the budget shortfall became imminent.
There will be nothing routine about the upcoming season, however, as the reduced attendance is just part of the story.
The SEC COVID-19 stadium protocol calls for marching bands to reduce their number of participants and stay off the field during games.
McGarity said Friday that tailgating remains in question, as well.
“We don’t want to create a dynamic that puts the institution in jeopardy,” McGarity said. “We want to balance that, wth creating some sense of normalcy.”
Not everyone is buying in.
There has been an opt out rate on season tickets of 54 percent, according to McGarity, who did his best to see the glass half full under these dire circumstances.
“The good thing about it, all our donors will be able to receive a ticket or tickets to a game this year,” McGarity said. “With the amount that did opt out, It did help us accommodated all our donors, so that relieved some pressure.”
Georgia opens the season at Arkansas on Sept. 26 before returning to Sanford Stadium for an Oct. 3 home game against Auburn.
The Bulldogs have four home games and have thus far elected to keep their game with Florida in Jacksonville this season, even though it’s Georgia’s designated year to host it.
The Bulldogs have a 9,000-ticket allotment to that game, just like the Gators.
The Georgia Zoom call also included a presentation by Kevin Carr, who is the founder of Pro2CEO, a firm that specializes in human development, diversity, equity and inclusion work for professionals in sports.
Georgia football preseason