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College Football

    Athens, Ga -- For the first time since spring, the University of Georgia football team will get together on the practice fields this afternoon and practice the sport of football. And if you’ve ever spent significant time in Athens or any other corner of the state, you may refer to this time of year as when “things are once again right in the world.” The wait has been a long one. Chalk that up to heightened expectations for the upcoming season, or maybe the sour taste left in the mouths of Bulldog faithful who watched their team lose to Georgia Tech in the last meaningful game in Sanford Stadium. Or maybe just the sticky, hot air that makes all of us dream of cool fall mornings with a pregame beverage while wearing a sweatshirt. Either way, it’s here.  Well, almost.  Kickoff is now just 33 days away, and head coach Kirby Smart stood in front of a room full of the regular media folks to discuss what he expects not only of his team, but himself, as the lifeblood of Athens is once again beginning to be be pumped back in.  “I'm thrilled for this day to get here,” Smart said.  “Excited to find out how a lot of these new guys learn. These practices are not easy. The idea is to create adversity for your team, find out who the leaders are and we're going to be able to do that. Not necessarily right away, because you've got shorts on, but as you move into it, you get into scrimmages, you move guys up and down the depth chart and you find out how they respond to things and how they react.” Some key areas will be addressed over the next four and a half weeks in order to avoid another embarrassing loss to Vanderbilt. Or Tennessee. Or Florida. Or Georgia Tech. And while the offensive line may be the first thing that comes to most fans’ minds, Smart exclaimed that another area holds the spot of concern No. 1 in his mind.  “Special teams would be No. 1,” Smart said “We are going to try to change some things up special teams-wise, as you guys know, from a quality control standpoint, Scott Fountain has joined us. I think he did a tremendous job at Auburn, always has. We counted, I think we had, I want to say it was 250 snaps on special teams played by true freshmen last year. So the question becomes: Can the true freshmen this year unseat some of those guys or create a competitive environment to make each one of those better. We've got to improve in our kicking units — that's punting, kickoff coverage, return game, everything. But we plan to do that and we'll do that in camp.” As Smart continued to reel off his main goals for camp, the offensive line didn’t even crack his top three. Instead he emphasized the passing game improvements he expects to see with sophomore starting quarterback Jacob Eason coming off being thrown into the SEC gauntlet as a true freshman. And then on to pass rush, and the importance of creating turnovers.  The offensive line eventually did come up, however. And for good reason. The Bulldogs are looking to replace three starters from an underwhelming line last season, and possibly resting some of those hopes on some heralded true freshman. Not exactly a situation any coach wants when your team plays in the Southeastern Conference, where defensive linemen have been known to win National Championships almost on their own. But Smart seems to think some players who may not have seen the field much in 2016 have shown drastic improvements going into this camp.  “I don't know that they are going to be really young,” Smart said. “I think it's going to depend on how those four freshmen come along. I think inexperience might be a better word, but not necessarily really young. We had 15 days of spring practice to watch the kids on our roster currently. To see Ben Cleveland grow, Pat Allen grow, see LaMont (Gaillard) move inside, Dyshon Sims played a lot of multiple positions, a lot of guys have come on to start and help. Solomon Kindley got a lot better. Those guys we were able to get right there at the end. I got to see both those guys grow because you know, that class didn't have a lot of linemen in it like we wanted. But those two guys have gotten better.” As far as the big-bodied freshman on that offensive line, Smart says patience will be key.  “Now the influx of these four, including now the junior college kid, D'Marcus Hayes that was here, we've got more depth and competition across the board. It's not necessarily saying, do you have the pieces to the puzzle. It's where do the pieces to the puzzle go, and we've got to figure that out early on. I think if you make a decision on day three or four, you can make a fatal decision and put a guy somewhere he doesn't belong, and you can put him up too fast.” Entering year two as the most popular - or at times most unpopular - man in Georgia, Smart will not have to deal with another season of firsts. But that hasn’t allowed him to be completely comfortable behind the wheel. In fact, he may never be comfortable, or even want to be remotely comfortable.  “I don't think you ever feel different when you're coming into a season because every team is different. It's a different set of problems, a different set of issues. Like I said, our biggest concern is what are our areas of focus and how do we get better at them.” Little will be known until September 2nd in Sanford Stadium around 8:30pm. That’s about the time the Bulldogs should be kicking off (hopefully receiving)  the second half of their opening game against Appalachian State. Lots of sound bytes will come out between now and then. Lots of speculations will be written and highly discussed. But for folks that need to see it to believe it, circle that date and that time. Now just 33 days away. 
  • Tailgating plans for the University of Georgia’s week three football game with Samford University on September 16th can now be planned in fine detail.  The SEC Network announced kickoff times for games taking place  the first three weeks on the network’s channels, and the Bulldogs have been assigned a 7:30pm kickoff against Samford on the SEC Network Alternate channel.  This will mark the second night game of the season in Sanford Stadium, with the week one matchup against Appalachian State kicking off at 6:30pm. It will also be the third night game in as many weeks, with the week two game at Notre Dame kicking off at 7:30pm.  The remaining kickoff times for the season will be announced closer to the games per SEC scheduling policies, with the exception of the Georgia-Florida game on October 28th, which is already scheduled as a 3:30pm kickoff. 
  • Kirby Smart said earlier this week that the Georgia football team should embrace the expectations. Well, here they are.   Georgia is officially the favorite to win the SEC East, albeit a slight one, as the Bulldogs were selected first in the division in the annual preseason media poll. Florida, the two-time defending champion, came in a close second. Georgia received 1,572 points, including 138 first-place votes, edging out Florida (1,526 points and 96 first-place votes.) The two were followed by Tennessee (998 points and three first-place votes), South Carolina (897 and five first-place votes), Kentucky (869), Vanderbilt (554) and Missouri (388). This is the fourth time in the last six years that Georgia has been picked to win the division. It met those expectations in 2012, then came short in 2013 and 2015. Last year, for Smart’s first season as Georgia’s head coach, the media picked Georgia to finish third. The Bulldogs ended up in a three-way tie for second. “When you come to the University of Georgia, the expectation is to win championships. That’s what we expect to do at the University of Georgia, and that’s the standard we’ll be held to,” Smart said from the podium during his turn at SEC media days. Georgia also received six votes to win the entire SEC championship, third-most behind prohibitive favorite Alabama (217) and Auburn (11).  Auburn and Mississippi State, the two West division teams that Georgia faces, were picked second and sixth in their division, respectively.  
  • Georgia will be getting a key player back at full speed in time for fall camp.   Speaking at SEC Media Days on Tuesday, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart Bulldogs defensive tackle Trenton Thompson will be ready to go after an offseason that including rehabbing a shoulder injury and withdrawing from spring classes in February to deal with an unspecified medical issue. Thompson will be a big part of a Bulldogs defense that returns ten starters from last season. In 2106, Georgia finished No. 16 in the nation in total defense, allowing only 327.5 yards per game while allowing 24 points per game, good for 35th overall. A sophomore last season, Thompson recorded 56 total tackles, including 9.5 for a loss and five sacks.  
  • HOOVER, Ala. — Georgia football signees Robert Beal and Devonte Wyatt have yet to qualify to enroll at UGA, but coach Kirby Smart remains hopeful it will happen soon.  “They’re not ready yet to come in yet,” Smart said on Tuesday at SEC Media Days. “We think we could get them in any day, any minute. And that’s the hope.” Beal is a linebacker who finished his high school career at Suwanee’s Peachtree Ridge High School, after also spending time at IMG Academy and Norcross High School. He was rated a 4-star prospect by 247Sports, Rivals and Scout, and a 5-star by ESPN. At one time, he was committed to Notre Dame. Wyatt is a defensive lineman from Decatur’s Towers High School. He was rated a 4-star prospect by 247Sports and Scout, and a 3-star by Rivals and ESPN. Neither player was expected to contend immediately for playing time, given the team’s veteran depth at their positions. But coaches were clearly high on the potential of both. “We talk to them a lot about staying in shape, because they’re not there with our guys working out,” Smart said. “So those guys get a program, they’re encouraged to do it, it’s hard to oversee it. So you want those guys to work out and stay in shape so that when they do qualify they’re able to come in and help.”    
  • HOOVER, Ala. — There is no more debate about it. Mecole Hardman is a wide receiver, plain and simple. He’s no longer a part-time defensive back. “I think that’s safe to say,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said at SEC Football Media Days on Tuesday. “You guys have finally cracked the egg.” The new 2017 media guide, just released this week, was one indication. It has only “WR” next to his name in his bio on page 42. Then there was the evidence offered in spring football practice. Hardman worked at wideout “95 percent of the time,” Smart confirmed. “He did double as a DB on some occasions as were very down with DBs in the spring,” Smart said. “But we think Mecole’s biggest attributes are going to help us in the offensive slot and the return game. He can do a lot of different things. We’ve got to find a way to get him a ball but he’s also got to find a way to protect the ball. That’s going to be a growing curve for him.” Hardman signed with the Bulldogs’ as a 5-star cornerback out of Elbert County High School, even though he played almost none at the position on that level. He was primarily a quarterback for the Blue Devils, while also returning kicks and occasionally playing some free safety. Sid Fritts, Hardman’s high school coach, understood the Bulldogs’ desire to try Hardman as a cover corner because of his incredible speed and quickness. But he always maintained, “I’d have a hard time not getting the ball in his hands as much as possible.” The Bulldogs have apparently come to the same conclusion. With Isaiah McKenzie leaving a year early for the NFL and vacating the coveted slot position, Georgia decided to give him a long there. They like what they’ve seen. “I don’t know that we could really spare (Hardman) defensively,” Smart said. “That’s why it was such a tough decision. We went into the spring with essentially two scholarship corners. That’s what was so tough about the move is it probably hurt us development wise. … You’re making that move to make the offense better, but you’re betting on the incoming freshmen to help us in the two-deep at defensive back.” Georgia has others to fill in at McKenzie’s slot position, where he led the team in receiving last season. But nobody comes as close as Hardman to reproducing the explosiveness factor McKenzie brought to the offense. “Isaish is one of the most explosively quick players I’ve ever been around,” Smart said. “He is smaller than Mecole, though, and he has a little more straight-line speed. He’s able to go out and compete on our track’s 4 by 100 team. But he probably can’t make you miss in a short are like Isaiah could. So there not exactly the same guys. But I’m really excited about the work habits Mecole has and he’s very bright.”  
  • LAURINBURG, N.C. — Zeus is going to Athens. Zamir White, the No. 1-ranked running back in the Class of 2018, made his choice known at a ceremony in the cafeteria of Scotland County High School on Tuesday. Thunderous applause from Georgia fans across the country must have erupted just after noon, when Zeus, as he is known in his community, chose the black Georgia baseball cap from among the five on a table in the cafeteria. The caps left on the table were those representing Alabama, Clemson, North Carolina and Ohio State. White — a 5-star recruit and also the nation’s No. 6 overall prospect per the 247Sports composite — chose the occasion of his mother Shanee’ White’s birthday to announce his verbal commitment to Georgia. His mother, who has a master’s degree in criminal justice and works as a corrections officer, had had a tremendous influence on her son’s life. She wore a black dress at Tuesday’s event. It was an important moment for the Bulldogs. Georgia had been seen as the leader for White because of its impending opening in its running back rotation. Seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will exhaust their eligibility after this fall. White had taken more recruiting trips to Athens than any other school. What was the deciding factor? DawgNation learned it came down to a mix of factors: playing time, system fit, comfort level within the program and his relationship with his future college position coach. The depth chart shows a perfect opening for the Bulldogs to insert a player described as a “generational” talent. That’s what the college coaches who have flocked to Scotland County High since 2014 have labeled him. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer walked the halls in Laurinburg and requested all of White’s film after his freshman season. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound back has averaged more than 8.5 yards per rushing attempt in his high school career. He has totaled more than 5,000 career rushing yards and scored 89 touchdowns with another year to go in high school. White even scored on his first carry in high school in 2014. White becomes the highest-rated commit in for UGA’s current recruiting class — by far. He’s the first Top 10, Top 50 or Top 100 recruit for the Bulldogs in this cycle. Georgia signed the nation’s No.3-ranked recruiting class in 2017, according to 247Sports. He’s the first top-ranked RB prospect in the nation to commit to the Bulldogs since 5-star Isaiah Crowell in 2011.
  • Bob Stoops will retire as head football coach of the University of Oklahoma Sooners after 18 years, according a release from the university on Wednesday. The university said Stoops is 'the winningest coach in Oklahoma history' and has an overall record of 190-48. >> Read more trending news He led the Sooners to the national championship in 2000. Stoops will remain as special assistant to the athletics director. University officials said Stoops is the only coach to win the Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl and national championship. They said he accumulated more wins in his first 18 seasons than any coach in the game's history. According to a statement from the University President David L. Boren, he will be succeeded by current offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. The statement said Stoops, 56, believed it was the appropriate time to conclude his time coaching in Norman, Oklahoma. Below is an excerpt of a statement from Stoops, obtained by the Associated Press and provided by OU: “After 18 years at the University of Oklahoma, I've decided to step down as the head football coach. I understand there has been some speculation about my health. My health was not the deciding factor in this decision and I've had no incidents that would prevent me from coaching. I feel the timing is perfect to hand over the reins. The program is in tremendous shape. We have outstanding players and coaches and are poised to make another run at a Big 12 and national championship. We have new state-of-the-art facilities and a great start on next year's recruiting class. The time is now because Lincoln Riley will provide a seamless transition as the new head coach, capitalizing on an excellent staff that is already in place and providing familiarity and confidence for our players. Now is simply the ideal time for me and our program to make this transition. ... “I'm especially thankful for being able to coach so many talented young men over my 18 years here. It has been so rewarding to see these players come to OU and mature over a four- or five-year career, and not just on the field. To play a small part in their growth is what I will always cherish the most. None of my success would have happened without the best fans in the country. I can't tell you how much I appreciated the 110 consecutive home sellouts. The passion of our fan base is unmatched, and their support has played a huge role in not only home games, but road games and all 18 of our bowl games, as well. ... “The coaching life is like a relay race and I'm thankful for my turn and am confident as I pass the baton. Carol and I intend on staying in Norman - it is our home. I will be available to Coach Riley and the athletic department in any manner. Thank you all for a lifetime of memories we shared together of 10 conference championships, the 2000 national championship, strong relationships with players and coaches, and the great Oklahoma football fans. Boomer!”
  • Brice Ramsey’s decision to transfer this spring left the Georgia football team with a void, and now it’s been filled – by Brice Ramsey. The senior quarterback has changed his mind and will return for his final season at Georgia. His mother confirmed the news to Dawgs247.com on Thursday. “Brice has committed to finishing out his time at the University of Georgia,” Yolanda Ramsey told Dawgs247. “After visiting and talking with other schools, he could not get past the part of where he is heart was and that is at UGA at the end of the day.” The news is big for the Bulldogs, even with sophomore Jacob Eason in place as the starter. After Ramsey’s decision to leave, that left the Bulldogs with only two scholarship quarterbacks, Eason and true freshman Jake Fromm, who was highly-touted but also inexperienced. But even after Ramsey announced his intention to leave, there were signs that both sides were keeping the door open to a return. Ramsey, still attending classes during the spring semester, helped the team out by throwing during spring practices, filling the need for an extra arm during drills. Earlier this week Kirby Smart, speaking with reporters at SEC meetings in Destin, said Ramsey would be welcomed back on the team. The parting was amicable, so why not? “I thought there was a chance out there (for him to return),” Smart said on Tuesday. “I’ve always told Brice: You have done a great job here. You’ve done everything we’ve asked you do, on and off the field. He’s a great kid. He competed really hard, I thought he did a really great job, was involved in the competition. When he came and told me he wanted to shop elsewhere, I told him I completely agreed and understood that. “I do think at the quarterback position that it’s a unique position. That there’s only one on the field, unless you’re a really weird offense, there’s only one guy on the field, so it’s a unique position to him. If you can’t play there, you want to go play. But if you don’t have anywhere you’re sold on playing – and we’ve done a good job of actively talking to him, keeping communication.” Ramsey joined the team in 2013 as an early enrollee, and many considered him the heir apparent to eventually be the starter. But circumstances changed, with Mike Bobo, the QB coach and offensive coordinator who had recruited Ramsey, leaving to become Colorado State’s head coach. And when Greyson Lambert transferred in the summer of 2015, he became the starter that season. Ramsey served as the backup, appearing in 11 games and throwing 35 passes. Eason arrived last year, and Ramsey was relegated to third-string. He did not throw a pass last season. But Ramsey did finish each of the last two seasons as the starting punter, averaging 38.7 yards on 45 punts. Potentially, Ramsey could compete again for that role, though sophomore Marshall Long is returning to health after breaking his kneecap, and graduate transfer Cameron Nizialek also punted well during spring practice. As for quarterback, Ramsey at minimum gives Georgia more depth and security. But his return could also scramble the picture behind Eason, if Ramsey is the main backup and that allows the team to bring Fromm along more slowly. The plan remains to be seen, but now Ramsey is back in the picture, and that can only be good news for the team. “It’s really a great thing to graduate from Georgia, be a part of a great program,” Smart said earlier this week. “And hey, we’ve got two quarterbacks. He’s a guy who could come in and compete, first, second or third and he’s got great experience.”
  • From UGA Sports Communications ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. ----- A $4.451 million increase in the fiscal year 2018 budget, athletic director’s overview of the athletic program, and a detailed review and explanation of the reserve funds highlighted the annual spring meeting of the University of Georgia Athletic Association Board of Directors Thursday. The total Athletic Association budget for 2018 was approved at $127,590,041. J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity’s report included an assessment of the overall athletic program. (full transcript of his report is included below). ‘’The responsibility to enhance our strengths and address our weaknesses lands on my desk’’ said McGarity. ‘’I know our program is not reaching its full potential. Our staff spends every day committed to moving our program forward, both collectively and sport by sport, and when we fall short of expectations, we are there to provide support, and when we win, we celebrate alongside each sport.’’ McGarity said the Athletic Association’s goal is for every one of the Bulldog sports to compete in its national championship.   ‘’This year, 16 of our 21 sports did just that,’’ he said. ‘’As with every year, some teams met or exceeded their expectations while some experienced uncharacteristic results. We still have teams competing in their NCAA Championships, so we still have work to do. Eight of our 21 teams have finished among the nation’s Top 10, with men’s and women’s outdoor track and field to be held in Oregon in early June. Both of our teams are projected to finish in the Top 10. I feel confident that we will see marked improvement in numerous sports in the near, if not immediate, future.’’ The 2018 budget marked the first portion of a lengthy report by treasurer Ryan Nesbit, UGA Vice President for Finance and Administration. Nesbit also detailed the Athletic Association reserve funds and outlined spending restrictions. He said the total operating reserve funds amounted to $68.1 million; however, only $36.9 million of that amount are available to support credit ratings, future projects, and maintain a standard operating reserve to provide funding for unforeseen events. (A condensed summation of Nesbit’s report follows below and accompanies the attached slides.) Among the highlights of the many reports came from Faculty Athletics Representative David Shipley, who announced that UGA’s 511 student-athletes posted a best-ever 3.13 grade point average in the recently completed Spring Semester.   Other highlights of the Athletics Board meeting included the following: • A presentation by Executive Associate AD Josh Brooks on the following current facilities construction projects: Phase 2 of Stegeman Coliseum upgrades that include all new seating, center court-hung scoreboard, as well as lighting and sound systems; the resurfacing of Spec Towns Track, scheduled for an Aug. 1 completion; reconstruction of the soccer stadium grandstand at the Jack Turner Soccer/Softball Complex; expansion and renovation of the Boyd Golf Center; upgrading of the restrooms on the 100, 200 and 300 levels at Sanford Stadium; beginning of the West End Zone project at Sanford Stadium. • A presentation by Executive Associate AD Matt Borman on his observations since beginning his position in Development in January of this year, and also on the progress of athletic fundraising efforts over the short and long terms. • A presentation from Shipley, representing the Student Wellness Committee, on the development of UGA’s Career Development program. Less than a year old, this program strives to counsel student-athletes on all aspects of career building and enhancement. • The announcement of the two student-athletes who will serve the 2017-18 year as representatives on the Board: distance runner Jonathan Pelham, a redshirt freshman from LaGrange, and soccer player Summer Burnett, a senior from Makakilo, Hawaii. • The introduction of Dr. Timothy Gray of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences as the newest member of the Athletics Board. Gray replaces Dr. Jennifer Samp as an elected faculty member of the Board. • The announcement of Kessel Stelling, 1978 UGA alumnus and Chairman/CEO of Synovus, will join the Athletics Board in 2017-18, replacing new emeritus member Don Leebern III. • A glowing academic report from Shipley, the text of which follows: Spring semester Grade Point Average (GPA) for all 511 Student-Athletes (SAs) is a best ever at 3.13. It surpassed the previous high of 3.06, representing a significant increase. Over 65 percent of our student-athletes were at B or above; 29.4% were between 3.50 and 3.99; and 24 (4.7% of the total) were at 4.00. This was the eighth consecutive semester and 10th in the last 12 in which the overall student-athlete GPA was above 3.00. Cross Country recorded the highest GPA among the men's teams with 3.43, while the top women’s team was Tennis with a 3.49. All UGA women’s teams had GPA’s above 3.00. The NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) for all UGA our teams was solid with Women’s Cross Country, Volleyball and Men’s Tennis having perfect scores of 1000. The APR provides a real-time look at a team’s academic success each semester by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete on scholarship. The APR accounts for eligibility and retention and provides a measure of each team’s academic performance. 97 student-athletes graduated on May 5. Their graduation speaker was Ernie Johnson, our own 2016 Hartman Award recipient and a former baseball student-athlete at UGA. Full Text from J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity: May 24, P.M. AD Report Narrative Thank you President Morehead Good morning. This is the seventh annual report I have had the privilege to deliver to members of our Athletic Board. I want to thank each of you, current and past board members, for the time you devote to our athletic program --- whether it’s spreading the word about UGA athletics, serving on a committee, being a sounding board, or lending an ear. People ask me frequently, how can I help? My response --- be “there”, be “present” and tell me what you really think. So I thank all of you for your offers of help and assistance. In my role as Athletic Director, I get to see the outstanding work our staff does on a daily basis to serve our student-athletes and the entire Bulldog Nation. Many positions in our department are very visible. However, the bulk of our work goes on beneath the surface and out of the limelight within departments such as compliance, maintenance, communications, marketing, promotions, student services and business operations. I want to express my appreciation to our entire staff and the scores of others who work hard every day on and off our campus for the betterment of our athletic association. We are truly blessed to have people who really care about the University of Georgia in our department. I have asked two of our senior staff members to make presentations today. Josh Brooks will talk about our facilities and Matt Borman will brief everyone on our Bulldog Club efforts. I’m confident you will find refreshing their insight as new staff members, who have joined, or in Josh’s case rejoined, our program after serving other institutions over the years. We look forward to these presentations. I would like to take a few moments and talk about the overall status of our program as it stands now, and as we look forward.  Much has been written about the status of our program from a competitive standpoint. Our stated goal is the extremely ambitious task of having every one of our sports competing in their national championship. This year, 16 of our 21 sports did just that. As with every year, some teams met or exceeded their expectations, some experienced uncharacteristic results. We still have teams competing in their NCAA Championship, so we still have work to do. Eight of our 21 teams have finished among the nation’s Top 10, with men’s and women’s outdoor track and field to be held in Oregon in early June. Both of our teams are projected to finish in the Top 10. I feel confident that we will see marked improvement in numerous sports in the near, if not immediate, future. Administratively, we continue to be committed to providing the resources necessary to make it happen. And the FY18 budget will reflect those commitments. The responsibility to enhance our strengths and address our weaknesses lands on my desk. I know our program is not reaching its full potential. Our staff spends every day committed to moving our program forward, both collectively and sport by sport, and when we fall short of expectations, we are there to provide support, and when we win, we celebrate alongside each sport. Regardless of the outcome, we remain loyal and dedicated to fully supporting our student-athletes and our coaches.  On the facility front, we have, or will have, invested over $95 million in our facilities over the past seven years. That total includes seven-figure projects at Sanford Stadium, Stegeman Coliseum, Foley Field, the Spec Towns Track, the Jack Turner Soccer Complex and the David Boyd Golf Center—and it doesn’t count the west end zone improvements in Sanford Stadium. That’s a million-dollar – and in most cases multi-million-dollar – investment in the competition facilities for 15 programs. Our board members have approved every one of these expenditures and each of you should feel a great deal of satisfaction about your efforts to make our physical plant exceptional. Believe me when I say that we have more than adequately invested in our TOTAL athletic program. That investment should be applauded.  I agree facilities are a vital part of an athletic program, and our plan of action over the years, and over the coming years, will provide the environment to thrive and compete at the highest levels in each sport. It has become commonplace to refer to facilities from school to school as an “arms race.” The game of comparing one school to another will always be a popular exercise for many. We will do what we think is best on a sport-by-sport basis for our teams in order to achieve all of our objectives on the field, in the classroom and in the community.  At this time, I would like to ask Josh Brooks to come forward and talk about his return to UGA, and his view of our facilities, both presently and in the future. Moving to the world of development, I’m proud to report the Georgia Bulldog Club – which has been the backbone of our fundraising efforts since it was founded decades ago – has set records once again. All of the credit for reaching these remarkable heights is a result of the leadership of our development staff, both past and present, along with 16,000 donors who provide support to our program.  The Magill Society initiative, launched in the Fall of 2015, is a remarkable story in itself. But it is not just the Magill Society alone --- it’s also scholarship endowments, sports-specific educational funds, naming opportunities --- it’s been a great year! And Ryan’s presentation demonstrated how our financial resources are essential to our annual operation. I would like to ask Matt Borman to come on up, and talk about the accomplishments of the Bulldog Club staff and share his thoughts with you at this time. I would like to thank Professor Shipley for earlier reviewing the academic report of our student-athletes for the past semester, and the past year. Ted White and his staff at the Rankin Smith Center are the very best in college athletics and the work they do every day to enrich the lives of our student-athletes is a wonderful story. Those efforts are validated often, most often at the end of each semester and none more so than on May 5th, during our graduation reception in Sanford Stadium prior to Commencement.  This special time is when the life of a student-athlete comes full circle. We saw these youngsters enter our program as wide-eyed teenagers. During orientation, we educate them on what’s ahead, what to look out for, how to prepare. We also let them know we are here to help, to help create an environment that allows them to excel in the classroom, in athletics and in life.  To have parents approach you to on that special day, to hear their appreciation for our staff helping their child in their journey to earn a degree, and to single out a staff member for good deeds done --- well, that’s priceless! In closing, I want to thank the President’s Office --- we are encircled by the persistent support we receive from President Morehead’s staff --- we appreciate your help . We are constantly amazed and appreciative of the depth, passion and concern our President affords the University of Georgia community on a daily basis. You are laser-focused on making UGA better every day, and that rubs off on all of us. Thanks for leading our school into the future --- we are in good hands. Our institution is the very birthplace of public higher education in our country. We have a legacy unlike any other. We have a college town unlike any other. So many have “committed to the G” --- and we are now asking everyone who believes in all of the “good” the University of Georgia does not only throughout our state, but around the country – to “commit to GEORGIA”. Let us not be distracted by those who attempt to divide us --- we must be united and stronger than ever before to help move our athletic program forward in the future. That concludes my report. Summary of Treasurer Ryan Nesbit’s Presentation In addition to the operating reserves summary that is customarily reviewed with the Board, additional information about these reserves, as well as endowed funds held and managed by the UGA Foundation for the benefit of the Athletic Association was presented. This presentation covered the endowments that are in place to provide scholarship funds for our student-athletes, endowed funds that provide general support for athletics, and the operating reserve funds. SLIDE 1 - In terms of the major objectives of maintaining adequate operating reserves, first and foremost, an adequate operating reserve is absolutely essential to sound financial planning and fiscal management. In addition, adequate reserves are a very important component of enabling the Athletic Association to stay in compliance with bond-related covenants as well as enabling it to achieve and maintain a Aa3 credit rating from Moody's Investors Service. SLIDE 2 - The most recent balances for the scholarship endowments, the general fund endowment and the operating reserve total just over $140 million. But more importantly, of that $140 million, only about $36.9 million of the operating reserve funds are unrestricted or uncommitted. Best practices suggest that nonprofits should maintain an operating reserve equal to 3 to 6 months of an organizations average recurring expenses with 3 months being the minimum amount of an operating reserve. With about $110 million of operating expenses and recurring interest expense included in the Athletic Association’s FY 2017 budget, this uncommitted balance should be somewhere between $27.5 million and $55 million. While we do believe that we are maintaining a healthy operating reserve, these figures underscore why it is very important for the Athletic Association to remain committed to identifying opportunities for additional revenue growth and capital fundraising because without additional revenue or fundraising, the Athletic Association’s capacity to invest in additional capital projects is limited. This statement is supported by the Credit Opinion that Moody’s issued in September 2016 which described the Athletic Association’s unrestricted liquidity as healthy and a strength that is counterbalancing its relatively high financial leverage.  SLIDE 3 - The first black slice of this summary chart represents the scholarship endowments and shows that this $37.7 million is restricted, by donor intent, to be used for scholarships and provides about $1.2 million a year for scholarships for our student-athletes. The red slice represents the general fund endowment and shows that this fund, which by Board policy is being managed as an endowment, will provide about $1.4 million annually to support the Athletic Association’s annual budget. The larger gray slice represents the $21.2 million that is committed from the current reserve balance to current capital projects. This figure does not include the $56.4 million of reserve and operating funds allocated for facilities projects over the past 10 years. The smaller gray slice represents $10 million from the operating reserve committed to the West End Zone project; this does not include an additional $4.5 million in estimated financing costs associated with the line of credit for this project that will be funded from the operating budget. Because a line of credit is being utilized for the West End Zone project, the amount of the reserve funds currently invested in the UGA Foundation’s long-term investment portfolio will not be reduced to help fund this project.  The final green slice represents the $36.9 million of unrestricted or uncommitted funds that remain available to enable the Athletic Association to: 1. stay compliant with bond-related covenants,  2. maintain a Aa3 credit rating,  3. maintain a standard operating reserve to provide the financial capacity to respond to unforeseen events that may go beyond the $1.7 million of contingency funds included in the FY 2018 budget, and 4. provide support for future capital projects.