Q&A transcript: McGarity on Open Records

ATHENS — Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity met with the media Wednesday with the purpose of talking about the men’s basketball program. It ended up being a chance for the media to ask him about the Open Records bill, which if signed by Gov. Nathan Deal would extend the state’s response time from three to 90 days. Here’s a transcript:

Kirby (Smart) didn’t want to answer the question last night, but how does the Open Records amendment benefit the football program?

McGarity: “Oh, I’d let Kirby address that, I mean I thought he did that yesterday. My only comment on the FOI is that it gives us a chance administratively – I like it because it gives us a chance to respond in a timely manner. We’ve had close to 100 FOI requests since Dec. 1. And it’s not just you guys in the room that are making these requests, I mean they come from everywhere. And it’s not just, ‘I need this bit of information.’ They’re very lengthy and it takes a lot of time just to estimate the time and effort it takes for those people who are doing their regular job, not necessarily to stop everything to provide this information. And some of that stuff has to be done after hours. Because it’s not like we have staff that are sitting idly by just to deal with this.”

Couldn’t you, with the budget you have and the money coming in, afford to have an Open Records manager to handle that kind of stuff full time?

McGarity: “Sure, there are so many ideas that people have out there. I just know that right now with the way we operate, it’s taxing to a lot of people.”

But there is no other state in the SEC footprint that has it less than 15 days.

McGarity: Oh I don’t know, you would have to do the research.

Why would you all need 90 when no one else needs more than 15?

McGarity: “That’s what is in the legislation, or as I understand it, that’s what’s before in the legislative process right now.

Is that the number (UGA) suggested?

McGarity: “There’s no suggestion on our part.”

It just appears to be a lack of transparency if this is passed.

McGarity: “Kirby -”

Something could be percolating for three months and not see the public light of day.

McGarity: “I have expressed myself to you all on numerous times on how it affects how you have to operate. Even things from facility development to drafts of contracts, I’m very process-orientated person as far as notification, approval. We have to operate in that world now. But as I’ve told y’all several times, if it’s draft of contracts, it has to operate in another stratosphere because otherwise it would have to be another open record for you. It just makes our job difficult just to handle just our normal business. To where we can’t work as effectively as we could dealing with everything from facility development to drafts of contracts. It makes our job that much more difficult. That’s why I think it’s helpful administratively for all the institutions that are involved in this.”

How aware (of the bill) were you and the administration before the fact?

McGarity: “I’ve made my statement on that. That’s all I need to do on that.”

Well it obviously came out of Georgia. That’s what – 

McGarity: “Kirby addressed that yesterday.”

Well he really didn’t when it got down to it.

McGarity: “He addressed it yesterday and his comments will certainly stand on its own.”

Do you worry that today it’s athletic associations, and later on this policy might spread to other areas of government?

McGarity: “I don’t know. I’m just focused on our world right now.”

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