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World News Headlines

    The Palestinians sharply condemned Israel on Sunday for holding a government meeting near a sensitive Jerusalem holy site at the core of their conflict. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet met Sunday in tunnels near the site for a special session marking the 50th anniversary of Israel's capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 war, an event it celebrates as the 'unification' of its eternal capital. Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called the meeting a 'provocation.' He said it sends 'a clear message to the Palestinian people that the systematic violations of their inalienable rights are going to continue.' After the 1967 war, Israel annexed east Jerusalem with the Old City home to holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, and declared all of expanded Jerusalem to be its capital. The international community has never recognized the move. The Palestinians claim the territory as the capital of their future state. The tunnels run near a compound holy to both Jews and Muslims. Jews revere the site, where the two Jewish temples stood in biblical times, as the Temple Mount. It is the holiest site in Judaism. The nearby Western Wall is the holiest site where Jews can pray. Muslim's regard the same hilltop compound as the 'Noble Sanctuary.' Home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and gold-topped Dome of the Rock, it is Islam's third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. The fate of the area is an emotional issue at the heart of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. A tunnel opening in 1996 sparked Palestinian protests that led to deadly clashes. At Sunday's meeting the government approved a plan to build a cable car project to the Western Wall. Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said the cable car 'will change the face of Jerusalem, allow easy and convenient access for tourists and visitors to the Western Wall and will serve as an exceptional tourist attraction.
  • The Latest on the Cannes Film Festival (all times local): 8:15 p.m. The Cannes Film Festival jury has awarded its coveted Palme d'Or award to Ruben Ostlund's 'The Square.' 'Oh my god! OK,' the Swedish filmmaker exclaimed after he bounded onto the stage to collect the prize. He led the crowd in a cheer, too. Ostlund previously won the Jury Prize in the 2014 festival's Un Certain Regard section for 'Force Majeure.' Dominic West, Elisabeth Moss and Claes Bang star in 'The Square.' Bang plays the curator of an art museum, who sets up 'The Square,' an installation inviting passers-by to altruism. But after he reacts foolishly to the theft of his phone, the respected father of two finds himself dragged into shameful situations. ___ 8:05 p.m. Sofia Coppola has won the Cannes Film Festival best director prize for 'The Beguiled,' her remake of Don Siegel's 1971 Civil War drama. The French AIDS drama '120 Beats Per Minute' won the Grand Prize from the jury. The Grand Prize recognizes a strong film that missed out on the top prize, the Palme d'Or. The jury also presented a special prize to celebrate the festival's 70th anniversary, to actress Nicole Kidman. Kidman wasn't at the French Rivera ceremony, but sent a video message from Nashville, saying she was 'absolutely devastated' to miss the show. Jury member Will Smith made the best of the situation, pretending to be Kidman. He fake-cried and said in halting French, 'merci beaucoup madames et monsieurs.' ____ 7:55 p.m. Diane Kruger has been named best actress and Joaquin Phoenix best actor at the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival. Kruger was honored for her performance in Fatih Akin's 'In the Fade.' She told the star-studded audience she was 'overcome.' Kruger said. 'Thank you a thousand times.' Phoenix was recognized for his role in Lynne Ramsay's thriller 'You Were Never Really Here.' He played a tormented war veteran trying to save a teenage girl from a sex trafficking ring. Phoenix wore sneakers on stage as he collected the prize. He said his leather shoes had been flown ahead of him. He apologized for his appearance, saying the prize was 'totally unexpected.' ___ 7:50 p.m. The Cannes Film Festival jury has awarded two — not one — screenplay awards this year — for 'The Killing of a Sacred Deer' and 'You Were Never Really Here.' Jury president Pedro Almodovar said as he announced the selection on Sunday night, 'We have our first surprise.' The jury prize went to Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev's 'Loveless.' The Palme d'Or award for short films has gone to the 15-minute-long Chinese movie 'A Gentle Night' by Qiu Yang. ___ 7:20 p.m. The Cannes Film Festival awards show is underway, with Italian actress Monica Bellucci as host. In her opening speech, the Italian actress defended the role of violence in movies, saying they only reflect the violence of the real world. Bellucci said, 'Cinema takes its inspiration from reality.' 'Nothing is more violent than reality,' she added. 'Cinema only plays its role as a mirror.' The festival has handed out its first award: the Golden Camera prize to Leonor Serraille for her French movie 'Young Woman.' The Camera d'Or is awarded to the best first film, with 26 films vying for it this year. Bellucci also spoke out about the representation of women in the world of cinema. Three female filmmakers have movies among the 19 in competition this year for Cannes' highest honor, the Palme d'Or. ___ 7:10 p.m. Among those spotted on the Cannes red carpet ahead of the award ceremony was filmmaker Robin Campillo. His AIDS drama '120 Beats Per Minute' earned some of the best reviews of the festival. Campillo told French broadcaster Canal Plus he had returned to Paris after the screening of his film, but returned after getting a call asking him back for Sunday's award ceremony. Does that suggest a possible Palme d'Or? Time will tell. Campillo's movie centers on the activist group ACT UP in Paris in the 1990s during the AIDS crisis. ___ 7:05 p.m. The red carpet at Cannes is humming with stars ahead of the ceremony that will award the coveted Palme d'Or prize. Two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain, looking fabulous in a white dress with red patterning on the front, said she and other members of the jury led by Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar wrestled Sunday with 'a very difficult choice.' The actress told broadcaster Canal Plus, 'We saw beautiful films.' Fellow jury member Will Smith was bubbly as ever, saying: 'I'm ecstatic. This has been a beautiful experience.' Diane Kruger, in a sober black dress, said: 'My heart is beating very, very fast.' ___ 5:51 p.m. The Cannes Film Festival Jury has done its job. But its president isn't letting slip which film it has picked for the coveted Palme d'Or award. Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar told a French BFM television reporter who managed to squeeze a few words out of him that the award deliberations Sunday were 'very fast.' Almodovar said: 'We did our work.' But for the names of the winners: Stay tuned. ___ 4:41 p.m. The Cannes Film Festival is gearing up to award its prestigious Palme d'Or at a glitzy award ceremony. No single movie has emerged as the clear favorite among the 19 in competition for the coveted prize being awarded Sunday evening. Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar presided over the competition jury. Almodovar has made clear that he doesn't want the Palme d'Or, the festival's top prize, to go to a movie that isn't shown on big screens. That could bode ill for Bong Joon-ho's 'Okja' and Noah Baumbach's 'The Meyerowitz Stories,' the first Netflix releases ever selected to be in competition for the Palme d'Or. Regarded as cinema's most prestigious festival, Cannes is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Organizers have declared that next year, streaming-only films will not be accepted for the competition.
  • Until a week ago, two things were widely agreed about Britain's upcoming general election: it was producing the dullest campaign in recent memory and the result was a foregone conclusion. It would be a coronation march for Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May. Then a bomb blast killed 22 people at a concert in Manchester, bringing campaigning to a shocked halt. When the debates, ads and stump speeches resumed three days later, they were delivered to a jittery nation on a transformed political landscape. Security now is the dominant theme in a contest that was supposed to be about Britain's exit from the European Union, with the main parties battling over which can keep Britain safer. History suggests the tragedy should further bolster May. Violent attacks usually produce a 'rally-round-the-flag effect' that boosts support for government and state institutions, Manchester University political science Professor Rob Ford said. While campaigning was suspended, May remained highly visible in her role as head of government, making several televised statements that were praised as somber and steadying. Yet the pause also seems to have solidified concerns about the lackluster campaign May was running before the suicide bombing at Manchester Arena. Polls which had given the prime minister's Tories as much as a 20-point lead over the left-leaning Labour Party have narrowed into the single figures. The Guardian newspaper noted that Conservative confidence has been replaced by 'the palpable sense of a Tory wobble.' May is an unelected and relatively untested prime minister. The Conservative Party picked her to replace Prime Minister David Cameron after his unexpected resignation in the wake of Britain's vote last June to leave the EU. May called an early election in a bid to increase her parliamentary majority and strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations. It seemed a low-risk gamble. Polls suggested voters regarded May as a stronger leader than Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, an old-fashioned socialist. Many Labour members harbor concerns about Corbyn, and the Conservatives were confident voters would reject seemingly outmoded Labour promises such as raising taxes on the wealthy and re-nationalizing industries. But from the start, May was accused of running a tightly controlled and uninspiring campaign. She made speeches to hand-picked audiences and batted away awkward questions by falling back on her oft-repeated slogan 'strong and stable government.' May also made several unforced errors. She said she would give Parliament a vote on reversing the ban on fox hunting — a statement that reinforced the Conservatives' status in many minds as the party of the wealthy. Then the party proposed changing the way pensioners pay for long-term care — a policy the opposition quickly labeled as a 'dementia tax.' The proposal alarmed many of the older people who form the bedrock of Conservative support. May was forced to make an embarrassing partial reversal. 'Theresa May's 'strong and stable' has proven to be an albatross around her neck,' said Steven Fielding, a professor of political history at Nottingham University. 'It's something that people now contrast with the reality, rather than showing the reality.' Labour, meanwhile, has outperformed expectations. Its focus on pouring more money into education and Britain's overstretched national health service has resonated with many voters. Corbyn — like May, often an uninspiring public performer — has stood his ground and avoided missteps. 'People expected the Labour campaign to fall apart, and it hasn't happened,' Fielding said. With less than two weeks until polling day on June 8, the heightened focus on security has risks for both parties. Authorities have acknowledged that British-born suicide bomber Salman Abedi was peripherally on the security services' radar, so voters could blame the Conservative government for failing to prevent the attack. Labour has criticized the cuts to police budgets May made while she was home secretary between 2010 and 2016, a period that saw the number of police officers across the country fall by almost 20,000. The Conservatives, meanwhile, have ramped up accusations that Corbyn would weaken Britain's defenses. They have repeatedly underscored his opposition to Britain's nuclear weapons and appearances alongside Irish republicans, even in the years when the IRA was setting off bombs in Britain. In a speech on Friday, Corbyn argued that British foreign policy had helped fuel terrorism. He said intelligence and security experts 'have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home.' Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Corbyn's comment amounted to justifying terrorism, and argued Sunday that Britain would be 'less safe if Jeremy Corbyn was prime minister.' Political commentators say such intense verbal assaults show the Conservatives are worried. In Sunday's Observer newspaper, columnist Andrew Rawnsley said a campaign organized around the projection of May as 'the Supreme Leader' had backfired by exposing her flaws. 'She is still on course to win, but it will not be the unvarnished victory that she was looking for when she began this campaign,' he wrote. ___ Follow Jill Lawless on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless
  • Syrian opposition activist groups say airstrikes have killed at least 17 people just south of the northern city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State group. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 18 people were killed in the airstrikes on the road between the villages of Ratla and Kasrat. It said Sunday's airstrikes hit buses, adding that the identity of the dead is not known. The activist-operated Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently said 17 civilians were killed in the airstrike on buses carrying civilians. Both groups blamed the U.S.-led coalition, which has been carrying out airstrikes in Syria against IS since September 2014. U.S.-backed Syrian fighters have been marching toward Raqqa for weeks under the cover of coalition airstrikes.
  • Norway is demanding that the Palestinian Authority reimburse it for funds donated to a women's center on the West Bank because the center was named after a female militant who participated in an attack in Israel that killed 37 civilians. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry says the country 'will not allow itself to be associated with institutions that take the names of terrorists.' Israeli Foreign Ministry officials applauded Norway's move and urged 'the international community to check closely where the money that it invests in the Palestinian Authority goes.' The women's center was named for Dalal Mughrabi, a member of the Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO.) She participated in the 1978 Coastal Road massacre in Israel and died during the attack.
  • Poland's popular pro-democracy movement has elected a new leader amid signs of waning and controversies surrounding the finances of its previous chairman. A weekend national convention of the Committee for the Defense of Democracy, or KOD, voted overwhelmingly for writer and political activist Krzysztof Lozinski to succeed Mateusz Kijowski. Lozinski is KOD's founding father. After the current nationalist government won power in 2015, he wrote a newspaper article criticizing the ruling party and calling on Poles to form KOD. Kijowski floated the idea on social media, drawing a massive response that materialized in huge anti-government protests. He became KOD's face and leader. KOD started losing momentum amid reports that Kijowski was not paying required alimony and allegedly drew funds from KOD's public collections. Prosecutors are investigating.
  • The Cannes Film Festival awarded its coveted Palme d'Or award to Ruben Ostlund's Swedish comedy 'The Square' on Sunday, while Sofia Coppola became only the second woman to win the best director award. 'Oh my god! OK,' the Swedish filmmaker exclaimed after he bounded onto the stage to collect the prestigious Palme, in a rare and somewhat surprising win for a comedy. In 'The Square,' Claes Bang plays a museum director whose manicured life begins to unravel after a series of events that upset his, and the museum's, calm equilibrium. The movie's title comes from an art installation that Bang's character is prepping, which invites anyone who enters a small square to be kind and generous. The film's satire and exploration of moral dilemmas culminated in one of the festival's most eye-catching scenes. A muscled, grunting man pretending to be a gorilla upsets a black-tie dinner for the museum, sniffing attendees and dragging a woman by the hair. The president of the Cannes jury, Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, praised the film for exploring the 'dictatorship' of political correctness and those trapped by it. 'They live in a kind of hell because of that,' Almodovar said. 'It's clever. It's witty. It's funny. It deals with questions so important,' said French actress and filmmaker Agnes Jaoui, a member of the jury that also included Americans Will Smith and Jessica Chastain. Most odds makers didn't have 'The Square' as a favorite to win the prestigious Palme d'Or, the top prize awarded at Cannes. Coppola won best director for 'The Beguiled,' her remake of Don Siegel's 1971 Civil War drama about a Union soldier hiding out in a Southern girls' school. Hailed as Coppola's most feminist work yet, the remade thriller told from a more female point of view stars Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst, with Colin Farrell playing the wounded soldier. Coppola was one of three female filmmakers out of 19 in competition for the Palme this year. The first — and until now, only — female winner of the best director prize was Soviet director Yuliya Ippolitovna Solntseva in 1961. Diane Kruger was named best actress and Joaquin Phoenix best actor as the festival celebrated its 70th anniversary. Kruger was honored for her performance in Fatih Akin's 'In the Fade.' She played a German woman whose son and Turkish husband are killed in a bomb attack. The film alludes to a series of actual killings that shook Germany six years ago, when it came to light that police had spent more time investigating the possible mob connections of migrant victims than the tell-tale signs of the far-right plot eventually uncovered. 'I cannot accept this award without thinking about anyone who has ever been affected by an act of terrorism and who is trying to pick up the pieces and go on living after having lost everything,' the actress said. 'Please know that you are not forgotten.' Phoenix was recognized for his role in Lynne Ramsay's thriller 'You Were Never Really Here,' in which he played a tormented war veteran trying to save a teenage girl from a sex trafficking ring. The actor wore sneakers on stage as he collected the prize. He said his leather shoes had been flown ahead of him. He apologized for his appearance, saying the prize was 'totally unexpected.' The French AIDS drama '120 Beats Per Minute' won the Grand Prize from the jury. The award recognizes a strong film that missed out on the Palme d'Or. Directed by Robin Campillo, the co-screenwriter of the Palme d'Or-winning film 'The Class,' the movie centers on the activist group ACT UP in Paris in the 1990s during the AIDS crisis. The film's docu-drama retelling of that painful period, combined with a burgeoning spirit of unity for the gay community, earned it some of the best reviews of the festival. Vanity Fair called the film 'a vital new gay classic.' Almodovar said: 'I loved the movie.' The jury also presented a special prize to Nicole Kidman to celebrate the festival's 70th anniversary. Kidman wasn't at the French Rivera ceremony, but sent a video message from Nashville, saying she was 'absolutely devastated' to miss the show. Jury member Smith made the best of the situation, pretending to be Kidman. He fake-cried and said in halting French, 'merci beaucoup madames et monsieurs.' There were no prizes for the first Netflix releases selected to be in competition for the Palme d'Or: Bong Joon-ho's 'Okja' and Noah Baumbach's 'The Meyerowitz Stories.' Almodovar had made clear beforehand that he didn't want the Palme to go to a movie that isn't shown on big screens. The Netflix selections prompted protests from French movie distributors and led Cannes to rule out, beginning next year, streaming-only films.
  • Video interviews with survivors of a deadly attack by Islamic militants on a bus taking Egyptian Christians to a remote desert monastery are painting a picture of untold horror, with children hiding under their seats to escape gunfire. The videos surfaced on social media networks on Sunday, two days after 29 were killed in the attack on a desert road south of the capital. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack on Friday. It was the fourth attack against Christians in Egypt since December to be claimed by the IS. The string of attacks have killed more than 100 and injured scores. One survivor, a small boy who seemed to be about six, said his mother pushed him under her seat and covered him with a bag. A young woman speaking from her hospital bed said the assailants ordered the women to surrender their jewelry and money before they opened fire, killing the men first and then some of the women. The woman said the gunmen were masked and wore military uniforms. Two girls, ages 2 and 4, were among those killed, according to a list released by the local government in Minya, the province where the shooting took place. The attack left 26 wounded, including nine children. Only 11 of the 26 remained hospitalized on Sunday. Bishop Makarios, the top Coptic Orthodox cleric in Minya, said the assailants told Christian men they ordered off the bus that their lives would be spared if they converted to Islam. 'They chose death,' said Makarios, who has been an outspoken critic of the government's handling of anti-Christian violence in Minya, where Christians account for more than 35 percent of the population, the highest anywhere in Egypt. 'We take pride to die while holding on to our faith,' he said in a television interview aired late Saturday. Makarios confirmed that the assailants stole the women's jewelry and his contention that the men were ordered off the bus before being killed was also confirmed by a video clip purportedly taken in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. This video showed at least four or five bodies of adult men lying on the desert sand next to the bus; women and other men screamed and cried as they stood or squatted next to the bodies. Egypt responded to the attack with a wave of airstrikes against suspected militant bases where the military said the perpetrators trained. A large-scale manhunt by police and soldiers backed by helicopters is underway in the vast deserts to the west of the site of the attack, but has so far yielded no arrests. In funerals for the victims held over the weekend in Minya, women relatives passed out, while others wailed in grief. There were chants demanding retribution. Others chanted 'With our lives and blood, we sacrifice ourselves for the cross' and 'Oh, God!.' In the Vatican, Pope Francis, for the second day in a row, expressed his solidarity with Egypt's Coptic Christians following Friday's attack. He led thousands of people in prayer Sunday for the victims, who Francis said were killed in 'another act of ferocious violence' after having refused to renounce their Christian faith. Speaking from his studio window over St. Peter's Square, he said: 'May the Lord welcome these courageous witnesses, these martyrs, in his peace and convert the hearts of the violent ones.
  • Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday he's considering banning laptops from the passenger cabins of all international flights to and from the United States. That would dramatically expand a ban announced in March that affects about 50 flights per day from 10 cities, mostly in the Middle East. The current ban was put in place because of concerns about terrorist attacks. The ban prevents travelers from bringing laptops, tablets and certain other devices on board with them in their carry-on bags. All electronics bigger than a smartphone must be checked in. Kelly was asked on 'Fox News Sunday' whether he would expand the ban to cover laptops on all international flights into and out of the U.S. His answer: 'I might.' The current U.S. ban applies to nonstop U.S.-bound flights from 10 international airports in Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. About 50 flights a day, all on foreign airlines, are affected. Earlier this month, there were reports that the Trump administration would broaden the ban to include planes from the European Union, affecting trans-Atlantic routes that carry as many as 65 million people a year. U.S. officials have said that initial ban was not based on any specific threat but on longstanding concerns about extremists targeting jetliners. 'There's a real threat,' Kelly said, adding that terrorists are 'obsessed' with the idea of downing a plane in flight, 'particularly if it's a U.S. carrier, particularly if it's full of mostly U.S. folks. It's real.' Kelly said that the U.S. is going 'to raise the bar for, generally speaking, aviation security much higher than it is now, and there's new technologies down the road, not too far down the road, that we'll rely on. But it is a real sophisticated threat, and I'll reserve making that decision until we see where it's going.' While Kelly referred to 'a real sophisticated threat,' the Trump administration's spending plan for the budget year that begins Oct. 1 would make significant cuts to airport security programs.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday urged European Union nations to stick together in the face of emerging policy divisions with the U.S., Britain's decision to leave the bloc and other challenges. Speaking at a campaign event held in a Bavarian beer tent, Merkel suggested that the G-7 summit in Italy that ended Saturday had served as something of a wakeup call. G-7 leaders were unable to reach unanimous agreement on climate change after U.S. President Donald Trump said he needed more time to decide whether to back a key climate accord. 'The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days,' Merkel told the crowd of some 2,500 that gathered to hear her and Bavarian governor Horst Seehofer. 'And so all I can say is that we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands,' she said, according to the dpa news agency. Merkel emphasized the need for continued friendly relations with the U.S. and Britain and also stressed the importance of being good neighbors 'wherever that is possible, including with Russia, but also with others.' 'But we need to know we must fight for our own future, as Europeans, for our destiny,' she said. Despite the Trump administration's talk of an 'America first' policy and ongoing criticism of Germany for its massive trade surplus, the G-7 leaders in Sicily did vow to fight protectionism, reiterating 'a commitment to keep our markets open.' They also agreed to step up pressure on North Korea, to forge closer cooperation in the fight against terrorism, on the possibility of imposing more sanctions on Russia over role in the conflict in Ukraine. But while six of the seven G-7 nations agreed to stick with their commitment to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement that aims to slow global warming, Trump said he needed more time to decide if the U.S. would abandon the accord. His administration has argued that U.S. emissions standards are tougher than those set by China, India and others, and therefore have put American businesses at a disadvantage. After the summit, Merkel called the climate talks 'very difficult, if not to say, very unsatisfactory.

Local News

  • Lake Lanier has a deadly reputation, and an examination at the statistics suggests it's warranted. Since 1994, northeast Georgia's favorite manmade lake — which touches parts of Gwinnett, Hall, Forsyth, Dawson and Lumpkin counties — has seen at least 160 people die. That's according to official statistics maintained by the Department of Natural Resources, which include boating-related fatalities and drownings (though drowning statistics were not kept between 1994 and 1998). The numbers also do not include an unofficial tally of this year's incidents, which include at least two deaths. This year's deaths include those of a Buford man who drowned in February and ajet skier from Cumming who drowned after a crash in April. In 2016, Lake Lanier saw 17 deaths, including nine drownings and eight boating-related fatalities. DNR statistics also track drownings, boating fatalities, boating under the influence and other 'boating incidents' that occur at each of the eight key lakes the agency patrols: Allatoona, Blackshear, Clarks Hill, Hartwell, Jackson, Lanier, Oconee and Sinclair. During the five years from 2011 to 2015, Lake Lanier had the lion's share of each category: • Drownings: 32 of 65, or 49.2 percent, occured on Lake Lanier. • Boating fatalities: 20 of 33, 0r 60.6 percent, occurred on Lake Lanier. • BUIs: 265 of 584, or 45.4 percent, occurred on Lake Lanier. • Total boating incidents: 174 of 342, or 50.8 percent, occurred on Lake Lanier. DNR spokesman Mark McKinnon attributed Lake Lanier's incident rate to the sheer number of visitors it draws.  'There are simply more incidents on Lanier due to the volume of visitors,' McKinnon told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year. 'Lanier has many more boaters and swimmers than any other lake in the state, including Allatoona.'  That said, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that Lanier welcomes about 7.5 million visitors each year, while Allatoona, in northwest Georgia, sees around 7 million. That's about a 7 percent difference — but over the decade that ended in 2015, twice as many people have died on Lanier (90) as Allatoona (45).
  • The University of Georgia will sponsor additional research to learn more about the lives of the individuals whose gravesites were discovered during the construction of the Baldwin Hall expansion. The work is two-pronged, consisting of further DNA analysis of the remains and a historical mapping study to learn more about the physical environment in which the individuals likely lived and worked. Following the discovery of the remains in November 2015, the university immediately consulted with the State Archaeologist's Office for guidance. The university then commissioned a team of faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students in the anthropology department to explore ancestry, age, sex and other characteristics of the individuals. About one-third of the 105 gravesites yielded samples suitable for DNA analysis, and the researchers found that the vast majority of these individuals were of maternal African descent. UGA Vice President for Research David Lee solicited further faculty input following the reinterment of the remains earlier this spring. He also consulted with leaders of the local African-American community. 'The university is committed to building upon the preliminary research and learning more about the lives of the men, women and children-who were likely slaves or former slaves, given the time period-whose remains were found adjacent to the Old Athens Cemetery on the Baldwin Hall site,' said Lee. 'These additional research efforts will help us in that pursuit.' The Office of Research will coordinate the next steps as follows: 1. The university will commission further DNA analysis to be conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin who specialize in the analysis of ancient DNA. These researchers already have been engaged with UGA assistant professor Laurie Reitsema in the first phase of research, which provided information only about maternal ancestry. The additional analysis will provide information about paternal ancestry and thus, paint a comprehensive picture of ancestral origin. It also will confirm the sex of the individuals and determine whether any of those buried on the site were related to one another. This detailed analysis should be completed within the coming year. 2. The supplemental DNA information gained through Step 1 could provide the reference materials needed to determine if any living community members are related to the individuals whose remains were found at the Baldwin Hall site. The Office of Research is exploring the means by which to make this option available, as economically as possible, to local citizens wishing to pursue a possible DNA linkage. 3. Professor Marguerite Madden, director of UGA's Center for Geospatial Research, will lead a team to create a dynamic time-series visualization of the cultural and natural landscape surrounding Baldwin Hall from the 1800s to the present. This project will incorporate historic maps, aerial photographs, satellite images and drone video to reveal more about the environment in which the individuals buried on the Baldwin Hall site lived and worked. In addition, the research will document the evolution of the cemetery and campus to present day. Most of this research will be done over the next several months. Madden's efforts will complement those of Southeastern Archaeological Services Inc., which will be conducting archival research and mapping services using ground-penetrating radar to identify, to the extent possible via this technology, the boundaries of the Old Athens Cemetery. Southeastern's mapping data will be included in the final report on the Baldwin Hall site that is required for submittal by the Office of University Architects to the State Archaeologist's Office.
  • With the help of two physical therapists and training equipment, Devon Gales, who suffered a significant neck injury while playing for Southern University against Georgia in the fall of 2015, walked on Thursday.   Gales was injured on a kickoff return collision with former Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan. Since then, Gales has been taken in by the Bulldogs as one of their own, initially led by former coach Mark Richt and continued by Bryant Gantt and the current staff.   Gales has appeared at Georgia football and basketball games during the last year and a half since his injury and had a long stay at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta before being able to return home to Baton Rouge.   He has occasionally posted videos of his progress on Twitter, always keeping a positive attitude and maintaining his goal of walking on his own one day. And in February, the University of Georgia announced a fundraising initiative to help the Gales family build a new house.
  • The Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department says the summer swim season begins tomorrow. Leisure Services operates five public pools in Athens: Bishop Park, Lay Park, Memorial Park, Rocksprings Park, and the East Athens Community Center. They’ll be open through August 6.  Pool Locations The Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department operates five outdoor pools. The pools are open during the summer months, only.  Bishop Park, 705 Sunset Drive, 706-613-3589 (open weekends, only) Memorial Park, 293 Gran Ellen Drive, 706-613-3580 East Athens Community Center, 400 McKinley Drive, 706-613-3593 Lay Park, 297 Hoyt Street, 706-613-3596 Rocksprings Park, 291 Henderson Ext, 706-613-3603
  • 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.

Bulldog News

  • With the help of two physical therapists and training equipment, Devon Gales, who suffered a significant neck injury while playing for Southern University against Georgia in the fall of 2015, walked on Thursday.   Gales was injured on a kickoff return collision with former Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan. Since then, Gales has been taken in by the Bulldogs as one of their own, initially led by former coach Mark Richt and continued by Bryant Gantt and the current staff.   Gales has appeared at Georgia football and basketball games during the last year and a half since his injury and had a long stay at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta before being able to return home to Baton Rouge.   He has occasionally posted videos of his progress on Twitter, always keeping a positive attitude and maintaining his goal of walking on his own one day. And in February, the University of Georgia announced a fundraising initiative to help the Gales family build a new house.
  • 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.
  • Athens, GA – While kickoff is still 100 days away, you no longer have to wait to find out what time UGA and Appalachian State will kick off in Sanford Stadium to start the 2017 college football season in Athens on September 2nd.    6:15 p.m., meaning the game will begin under the sun, but should be completely under the lights by the start of the second half. The time is a bit of a change from the usual, and almost expected noon kickoff the Bulldogs are used to being assigned for early-season home games against non-power five opponents.    The game will be aired on ESPN.    Georgia has played Appalachian State one time in its history, beating the Mountaineers 45-6 on Homecoming in 2013. Week two sees the Bulldogs traveling to Notre Dame, also a night game, kicking off at 7:30 p.m. on NBC.     
  • The latest season of Georgia Bulldog baseball comes to a close: the Diamond Dogs lost 3-0 to Mississippi State in Wednesday’s rain-delayed opening round game of the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament in Hoover Alabama.  Sophomore Konnor Pilkinton carried a shutout to the ninth to lead 19th-ranked Mississippi State to the win over Georgia at the SEC Tournament Wednesday at the Hoover Met. MSU junior first baseman Brent Rooker, the SEC Player of the Year, provided a 2-0 lead when he smashed his league-leading 21st home run in the first inning off junior Chase Adkins. In the third, State loaded the bases with one out and only managed a sacrifice fly from Hunter Vansau to make it 3-0. State improves to 35-22 while Pilkington is now 7-5.   Georgia missed out on a scoring opportunity in the second inning, putting runners at the corners with nobody out after Mitchell Webb reached with a leadoff walk and LJ Talley lined a single to right field. However, Pilkington retired the next three Bulldogs to maintain their edge. Going to the ninth, Georgia had hits from Talley, freshman shortstop Cam Shepherd in the first inning and freshman catcher Austin Biggar in the eighth frame. Adkins saw his record drop to 6-7, allowing three runs on seven hits. Georgia’s bullpen of Drew Moody, Kevin Smith and Zac Kristofak combined to provide 4.1 innings of scoreless relief.   In the ninth, Georgia looked to rally as Shepherd collected his second hit to give him his team-best 21st multiple-hit game of the year and then Curry followed with a single. State turned to left-hander Riley Self. He got McGovern to bounce into a double play and then retired Webb to preserve the shutout for his fifth save.   Two weeks ago in Athens, Georgia claimed the regular season series over then sixth-ranked MSU two games to one. In that series, Pilkington and MSU won the opener 9-3 as he tossed eight scoreless innings, allowing just four hits with four walks and seven strikeouts.   The Bulldogs end the season with a record of 25-32.   Dawg Tracks *Nine Bulldogs played in the SEC Tournament for the first time in their career including four freshmen starting position players. *Freshman Cam Shepherd registered his team-leading 73rd hit with a single in the first, and it extended his hitting streak to five games. Also, he played flawless defense with four putouts and four assists. *Junior Will Campbell saw his first action in more than a month (23 games) as he pinch-hit in the fifth inning and played right field for the remainder of the game. *Georgia is now 28-43 all-time in SEC Tournament games after making its 23rd appearance. The Bulldogs are 4-9 against MSU at the SEC Tournament.   Coach’s Corner: Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin “Konnor Pilkington was the difference in this game, that’s twice in the past two weeks that he’s shut us out for eight innings. We had our chance early in the game with two on and nobody out and he pitched out of trouble. I thought we pitched out of trouble a few times too. Still, we kept fighting and had a chance in the ninth with the tying run at the plate. I thought our kids battled down the stretch to get us to the SEC Tournament. It’s tough in this league and we won our last three SEC series against three really good teams.” 
  • ATHENS — All along, even after Yante Maten declared for the NBA draft last month, the expectation has been that the UGA basketball star would ultimately be back for his senior season. Now it’s official: Maten will do just that. Maten announced that he is withdrawing his name from the draft, two days before the NCAA deadline to do so. While Maten tested the waters, and participated in workouts with at least two NBA teams, he retained his college eligibility by not signing with an agent. This is obviously still great news for Georgia, which will thus return one of the SEC’s top players last season. Maten, a 6-foot-8 forward from Pontiac, Mich., was first team All-SEC by the coaches last season and second-team All-SEC by the AP. He averaged 18.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while missing four games and almost all of a loss to Kentucky with a sprained knee. Georgia, which was a disappointing 19-14 last season, now projects to return nine of its top 10 scorers. The exception is a rather major one: J.J. Frazier, the consensus first-team All-SEC point guard. But with Maten back, and highly-rated recruit Rayshaun Hammonds, a wing player, the Bulldogs have a potentially strong nucleus. Sophomore Tyree Crump and junior Turtle Jackson are expected to divide up Frazier’s minutes at point guard. Hammonds should compete for a starting spot at small forward, with Maten’s return meaning he and junior Derek Ogbeide man the two post spots. (Although Maten could see more time on the wing himself.) The backcourt and small forward positions will be interesting to watch, with Hammonds joining senior Juwan Parker, who started most of last year, as well as sophomore Jordan Harris, Crump, Jackson, junior E’Torrion Wilridge. Two other incoming freshmen, guard Teshaun Hightower and forward Nicolas Claxton, should also compete for minutes on the perimeter. And incoming freshman Isaac Kante joins junior Mike Edwards as depth in the post. It was set to be a deep and balanced team, with or without Mante. But now Mante’s return gives it some returning star power.