ATHENS — Greg McGarity has been doing a lot of talking lately about the future. To date, though, that has been about the University of Georgia’s future, not his.
But the Bulldogs’ athletic director of the last 10 years had no choice but to have his future addressed on Wednesday as UGA President Jere Morehead made it part of the agenda for the Athletic Association’s board of directors meeting.
During president’s business at the outset of the regularly-scheduled winter meeting, Morehead asked that the board go into executive session, asking all non-board members, athletic department employees, press and emeriti membership lead the room. Morehead said during that time that he recommended to the board that McGarity be given an extension and raise to continue as the university’s top administrator for athletics. Morehead’s recommendation was then unanimously approved by the full board with all attendees present.
“We appreciate you agreeing to come back for at least one more year, maybe longer,” Morehead said following the vote.
And, so, McGarity’s tenure as AD will continue. Morehead said that McGarity’s contract and “compensation” were discussed in executive session. However, no other details were discussed in open session and there was no additional commentary made by Morehead or board members. The meeting continued on regularly-scheduled business without further discussion.
“I’m very honored to served the university and this board in this role,” McGarity said later during the AD’s remarks.
Both the president and AD will be available for comment after the meeting adjourns.
McGarity has been the Bulldogs’ athletic director since succeeding Damon Evans in August of 2010. His current contract, which was extended by two years in 2015, was due to expire on June 30, or in about 3 1/2 weeks. McGarity’s salary of $675,000 ranked 13th among the SEC’s 14 athletic directors as of last fall.
Discussions about a raise and contract extension for McGarity began last spring. At the time, the Bulldogs were coming off an SEC Championship and national championship game run in football and winning national championships in both men’s and women’s track. Georgia also returned to the Top 10 (at No. 8) in the NACDA Learfield Cup standings for overall athletic excellence. That represented the school’s best finish since 2004-05, when it was seventh.
McGarity, who is 64 years old with 42 years of athletic administrative experience at Georgia and Florida, could choose to retire if he wanted. But it’s thought that he has too many ongoing projects he wants to see through to step away now.
Chief among those are the championship pursuits of the football team. McGarity is credited with hiring coach Kirby Smart, who has taken the Bulldogs to the SEC Championship each of the last two years and delivered them to the national championship game of the 2017 season. Georgia is expected to open the 2019 season as a Top 5 team again. McGarity might want to include a national football title on his personal worksheet if one is in the offing.
Similarly, McGarity also initiated the recent coaching changes for the Bulldogs’ men’s basketball program. The first season has been a tough go under coach Tom Crean, who has seen his team lose 10 SEC games in a row heading into Wednesday night’s home tilt against Mississippi State. But Crean also has secured the commitment of the No. 1 overall recruit in America in Atlanta’s Anthony Edwards, and McGarity gave Crean his word that he’d provide all the support possible to help turn around the program.
After getting off to a somewhat shaky start as Georgia’s AD, things are going considerably better for McGarity of late. The Bulldogs women’s tennis team just won 2019 indoor national championship, which was the eighth during his tenure.
More importantly, McGarity is credited for the the move to dismissing former football coach Mark Richt and hiring Kirby Smart, who has led the Bulldogs into the SEC title game each of the last two years. McGarity is also in the midst of overseeing a transition in the men’s basketball program to Tom Crean from Mark Fox. While Georgia is 1-11 in SEC play in Crean’s first season, he recently secured the commitment of the nation’s No. 1 ranked basketball recruit in Anthony Edwards of Atlanta.
McGarity will tell you that his priority is getting funds approved for a construction project to rebuild the tennis grand stands at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. But he s also trying to assist Smart in the next phase of the facilities arms race, which will include a new football building in the existing Butts-Mehre Athletic complex that is expected to cost well over $50 million upon completion. He’s still wrestling with future football scheduling issues, which suddenly threatens to alter the oldest rivalry in the Deep South.
Immediately on his worksheet is $26 million renovation and construction project for Georgia’s vast tennis complex, which breaks ground on an $8.5 million first phase this summer. That motion is expected to be approved by the board at Wednesday’s meeting.
Things are going extremely well on the fund-raising front. The Bulldogs are approaching the $100 million mark in donations and pledges to the Dan Magill Society, which McGarity got started to initiate funds for the indoor football facility. Completed in 2016 for just over $30 million, the Payne Indoor Athletic Facility represents $93 million in football facility improvement projects under McGarity’s watch.
McGarity was hired by Georgia in August of 2010. He succeeded Damon Evans, who resigned suddenly due to an incident of personal impropriety. A UGA graduate and former tennis player and coach, McGarity had worked at his alma mater for 17 years before In an interview not long after that, McGarity said he “couldn’t see myself doing this for more than 10 years.”
Now in Year 10, UGA athletics has gone through its most extensive and steady growth period financially in the history of the school.