GREENSBORO, Ga. — An interesting side discussion developed in the minutes following the first day of the UGA Athletic Association’s board of directors meeting Thursday at the Ritz Carlton Lodge on Lake Oconee. UGA President Jere Morehead was asked if he felt that athletic director Greg McGarity, standing six inches to his left, was deserving of a contract extension and/or raise.
It made for a somewhat awkward exchange and resulted in considerable blushing from the already rosey-faced McGarity.
“We’re not talking about anything but the current situation,” Morehead said of his AD, who has one year remaining on a contract that pays him $675,000 a year. “But, yes, I have great confidence in Greg. He’s doing a tremendous job, but we’re good where we are.”
Asked if “yes” meant UGA is indeed contemplating an extension for McGarity, Morehead clarified: “No. I’m saying to you we haven’t had any of those kinds of conversations.”
It was at this point that McGarity somewhat sheepishly piped in.
“There’s no urgency,” said McGarity, Georgia’s AD since September 2010. “We’re in great shape. Today is about all these teams and everything they’ve done. There’s just no urgency about [the contract].”
An increase in compensation would appear justified. In a recent survey of SEC athletic director salaries, the database SportsInfo.pro revealed that McGarity’s salary ranks 13th — or next to last. Only Auburn’s Allen Greene makes less ($625,000). Alabama’s Greg Byrne makes the most at $1.225 million, followed by Florida’s Scott Stricklin ($1.08M). Even Tennessee’s newly appointed, first-time AD Phillip Fulmer will earn $1.04 million this year.
In all, four of the conference’s athletic directors earn at least $1 million a year and 10 earn $800,000 or more.
“When Greg has issues about things like that, he’ll come to me and talk about them,” Morehead said.
Said McGarity, who is not represented by an agent: “I have no issues. I don’t compare myself against others. I’m extremely well-compensated regardless of what others make. The only time I ever pay attention to it is when somebody brings it up. I’m in great shape, I have a great boss and work for a great institution. I don’t get involved in that and it really doesn’t bother me at all.”
McGarity, 63, came to Georgia from Florida in 2010 to succeed Damon Evans and said then that he expected to be in the position at least 10 years or “as long as Georgia will have me.”
Asked Thursday if that were still the case, McGarity said, “I just think it’s an unforeseeable future. We’ll just see what happens. And, trust me, we haven’t even talked about it. It’s not urgent; it’s not important. But for the foreseeable future, I feel like I’m in great shape.”
It bears pointing out that everybody was singing McGarity’s praises on Thursday, Morehead included. The Bulldogs won the SEC Championship and finished No. 2 in the nation in football. UGA currently is 13th in the Learfield all-sports national rankings, won a national championship in track, won the SEC’s all-sports trophy for women and is No. 2 in that ranking.
“Looking across all 21 sports — fall and spring — I cannot recall in recent memory a stronger year for Georgia athletics,” Morehead said. “And the year is far from over. Teams are still competing with championship aspirations. The tremendous success we are witnessing this year is a testament to our commitment to excellence in all of our sports.”
Meanwhile, UGA athletics just last week received recognition from the NCAA for its top-10 placement in Academic Progress Rate (APR) for all its sports. Four of Georgia’s sports — including men’s basketball — were ranked in the top 10.
It has been a good year McGarity, for sure. That hasn’t always been the case. He has been criticized in the past for his handling of coaches, including former football coach Mark Richt, men’s basketball coach Mark Fox and current baseball coach Scott Stricklin.
But since then he has hired Kirby Smart, who has turned around the football program; Stricklin’s Diamond Dogs are likely going to host an NCAA Regional this year; and Tom Crean so far at least has energized the fan base with his hyperbolic promotion of the basketball program.
I ask you, DawgNation, does McGarity deserve a contract extension? A raise? Nothing?