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Latest from Logan Booker

    Crews are working to repair a partial collapse of a parking deck that is under construction on Thomas Street in Downtown Athens. The collapse occurred Thursday night on the top level of the deck near the Classic Center, causing minor injuries to two construction workers. Roads were temporarily shut down while authorities secured the area.  
  • We are following a developing story of a Clarke County school bus involved in an accident on Lexington Rd near the Clarke County tag office.  Traffic was temporarily shut down in both directions as authorities dealt with the incident.  As of now, there are no reports of any injuries to children. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.  UPDATE 12:46pm: The driver of the school bus did sustain non-life threatening injuries, and was transported for further evaluation. According to a witness on the scene the driver was in “good spirits” while being treated on the scene. There were no injuries to students on the bus.  UPDATE 1:18pm: A power outage is reported at the Athens-Clarke County tag office because of the accident.  UPDATE 1:30pm: Athens-Clarke County Police say Lexington Road has reopened. UPDATE 2:18pm: Power to the tag office has been restored.
  • Athens, GA - The familiar sounds of coach’s whistles and stampeding linemen can be heard around the Butts-Mehre athletic complex in Five Points this afternoon. That’s because football, the lifeblood of the University of Georgia and Athens is back for 2017 Spring Practice.  Year two of head coach Kirby Smart will officially begin today with the first of a series of practices leading up to the April 22nd G-Day game to be held in Sanford Stadium, with no shortage of storylines to watch.  The progression of sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason will likely take the forefront of attention - again - as the heralded signal caller from Washington state will look to show maturity coming on the heels of a successful but otherwise not spectacular freshman season in the Southeastern Conference. And new this year comes legit competition from another five-star quarterback recruit from Houston County, Georgia, Jake Fromm. How the two will complement and push one another through the rigors of practice this spring and into fall will clearly define the success of the 2017 version of the Georgia Bulldogs.  Not to be outdone, plenty of attention will be given to the beloved pair of senior running backs who surprised many by announcing they would indeed spend their senior seasons between the hedges. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel both could have declared for the NFL Draft, but instead decided they would rather wash the sour taste of an 8-5 season and a home loss to Georgia Teach in 2016 out their mouths the best way they know how, with the possibility of exacting revenge. Their return not only will cause headaches for opposing defensive coordinators throughout the SEC, but will provide invaluable leadership for a young corps of running backs in line behind them preparing to be the future of a program often tabbed “Running Back U.” Smart’s defense will also be under a microscope as the boys practice under the shadows of bloomed dogwood trees these next few weeks. What was considered the weakness of the program this time last year - an ultra thin and young defensive line - proved to be one of the strongest units in 2016. How they progress and grow together will be examined closely.  And the biggest mystery of them all, the offensive line, will likely not shake out until the leaves start changing this fall, rather than under the fragrance of pollen this spring. What was clearly the most-handicapping aspect of an underwhelming offense last season is now missing a few starters, but also has a lion’s share of top recruits scheduled to arrive on campus this summer. So any observations of struggles in protecting the quarterbacks or opening up holes for the running backs may require an asterisks until we make the same observations five months from now.  It’s a happy time of year for many in this part of the world. It’s often referred to as “stress-free football,” with all the nostalgia of SEC football on the practice field, without the worry of losing to a hated rival on Saturday. And when tens of thousands file into Sanford Stadium for G-Day, there’s a guaranteed Bulldog victory to be seen. And no matter how you view it, or how you want to examine and analyze it, there’s one thing everybody will agree on: football is back. And the Classic City is simply more fun with it. 
  • According to several reports, the Los Angeles Rams are signing former University of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. Most notably being reported by Ian Rappaport, a national insider for the NFL Network.  Murray graduated from UGA in 2013 after starting for four seasons, setting nearly every school quarterback record along the way. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs, where he played a backup role until late last season when he was cut, and then signed to the Philadelphia Eagles practice team before becoming a free agent this offseason.  Sure to make every UGA fan smile, Murray will be reunited with former UGA running back Todd Gurley in L.A. Gurley was drafted in the first round by the Rams in the 2015 NFL Draft, and then promptly won league Rookie of the Year. The duo was a huge fan favorite between the hedges, and also beat Florida together in back-to-back seasons in 2012 and 2013. 
  • In the wake of President Donald Trump's executive order over the weekend banning travel and immigration to the United States from six muslim countries, University of Georgia President Jere Morehead has issued a statement in response as it relates to the univeristy.  The following is an email sent this morning from Morehead to all UGA students and staff:     To:  All University of Georgia Students, Faculty and Staff   From:  Jere W. Morehead, President Pamela Whitten, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Noel Fallows, Associate Provost for International Education   Recent regulatory and policy changes affecting international travel and visa holders will likely result in questions among students, faculty and staff. Specifically, an executive order has been issued that limits nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days, and places additional restrictions on individuals seeking entry pursuant to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.    The U.S. Department of State has issued the following notice at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html regarding the executive order, and we will continue to closely monitor for any additional updates and guidance from federal officials.   As you know, the safety and well-being of the UGA community is our top priority, and it is important that we remain in close communication as new information and direction from the State Department becomes available in the coming days.   All international students, staff and faculty who might be traveling overseas in the near future are advised to consult with the UGA Office of International Education – at 706-542-2900 or https://international.uga.edu, or you can contact Dr. Fallows directly at nfallows@uga.edu.   It appears that no University of Georgia faculty or students were detained over the weekend as a result of the executive order.    The staff within the Office of International Education is committed to serving our colleagues at UGA. We will continue to assess the impact on our students, staff and faculty, and will provide updated information and assistance.
  • A public forum is set for 6 o’clock this evening at the Classic Center in downtown Athens: it’s the first in a series of sessions organized by Envision Athens, an effort spearheaded by Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Sharyn Dickerson. Dickerson and a steering committee comprised of about three dozen people describe Envision Athens as “a community-wide effort to develop a common vision for the future of the Athens-Clarke County community.”
  • A statue of baseball legend Ty Cobb will have a new home in Royston, GA, the home town of the player nicknamed “The Georgia Peach.” The statue spent the last 20 years outside of Turner Field, but was not in the plans to make the trip to Suntrust Park in Cobb County, where the Braves will call home beginning this spring. 
  • Gwinnett police arrested two teenagers Sunday after a 19-year-old man was found dead after a shooting Saturday. Christopher Tavarez, 18, of Duluth, and Bailey Foney-Ray, 18, were arrested and charged with murder, aggravated assault and conspiracy, according to police Both teens have been booked into the Gwinnett County Jail. J’Kobe Wilkerson, 19, of Duluth, was found dead in a breezeway at the Bridgewater Apartments on Ridge Brook Trail.  
  • A computer glitch grounded hundreds of Atlanta-based Delta Airlines flights worldwide last night for several hours. Delta officials say things are back on track, but more flights are expected to be delayed today as the logistics sort themselves out. 
  • The Illinois-based Caterpillar company, with its big manufacturing facility on Athens’ west side, is reporting bigger than anticipated fourth-quarter losses, dragged down largely by higher-than-expected restructuring costs. Caterpillar is also lowering its 2017 revenue forecast.
  • Logan Booker

    Logan Booker is a graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, where he earned a degree in magazine journalism in addition to a certificate in Grady Sports Media. He was raised in Lawrenceville, Ga, and in addition to his current home in Athens, he spends lots of time with his dog and his boat in Lincoln County, Georgia.  

    Logan has covered UGA sports since 2012, previously with Bulldawg Illustrated. 

    Read More

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.