A estimated budget shortfall of $55 million for the fiscal year 2021 was announced Athletic Director Greg McGarity in his report to the UGA Athletics Board of Directors in its fall meeting. Like the most recent Board meeting in June, Friday’s gathering was held as an online video conference because of social restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the budget shortfall, McGarity expressed optimism that the Athletic Association can absorb any deficit by using a combination of measures, including cost containment, as well as utilizing its short-term loan and a portion of its reserve fund. Exactly how much of the reserves will be used is yet to be determined.
McGarity also made special mention to thank the Georgia fans that had chosen to keep their donations intact during such precarious economic times for college athletics. More than 50 percent of donors ''opted out'' of attending games this season, a number that is "pretty consistent across the SEC,'' according to McGarity. ''The good thing about it, even though the opt-out number will be in that range, all of our donors are going to be able to receive a ticket or tickets to a game this year,'' he added. ''We were a little worried on the front end that if everybody opted in, we would not be able to accommodate a lot of our donors. But with the amount that did opt out, it certainly helped us accommodate all of our donors.''
Also in his report, McGarity recognized the efforts of a number of his senior staff, particularly the Sports Medicine staff and its leadership team of Senior Associate AD Ron Courson and Assistant AD Anna Randa. He also thanked President Jere W. Morehead for his leadership of the entire University community through the prevailing times.
Other highlights of the meeting included:
• Senior Deputy Athletic Director Josh Brooks gave an update on the progress of the Butts-Mehre expansion project. The Butts Mehre building has served as the administrative center for the Athletic Association, as well as the operational hub for the football program, since 1987. The latest expansion, at an estimated cost of $80 million, began in January and will add a greatly expanded weight room, locker room, meeting rooms, coaches' offices and sports medicine facility, as well as a number of other improvements for the football program. Construction for the first phase is expected to be completed by April of 2021.The expansion project, according to Brooks, remains on schedule — despite a rainy winter and spring, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic — and within budget.
• A presentation by Kevin Carr, founder, CEO and Principal of Pro2CEO, a professional development firm that specializes in human development, diversity, equity and inclusion work for professionals in sports. Pro2CEO will be helping the Athletic Association implement strategic initiatives in those areas. The primary goal of this program is to continue developing an environment that will effect meaningful change in these areas for all the Association’s members, including student-athletes, coaches and staff.
• An educational session on compliance by Deputy AD Will Lawler.
• Introductions of and remarks from two student representatives on the Board: graduate student Tori Ecton and Caroline Chipman, a member of the soccer team. Chipman, a senior from Atlanta, gave a first-person account of her return to team activities, as well as her excitement over the upcoming 2020 season. Ecton reported on the one-year exception to the football student-ticket allocation system, accounting for the greatly reduced number of tickets available to students this season. A second student-athlete representative, redshirt sophomore Kearis Jackson, was unable to participate because of football practice.
Also included on the agenda was a glowing academic report from Faculty Athletics Representative, Prof. David Shipley. Highlights of Shipley’s report included:
• The final grade point average for the 2019-20 Academic Year for all UGA student-athletes, men and women combined, was a 3.16. That figure is believed to be an all-time record.
• Each of the 11 women’s teams finished with a team GPA of 3.20 or higher. The cumulative GPA for Georgia’s 264 female student-athletes was a 3.42.
• Equestrian was first among women’s teams with a team GPA of 3.5685, edging the cross country squad, which finished with an average of 3.568.
• Five of Georgia’s eight men’s teams finished with a team GPA of 3.23 or higher. Tennis came in first with an average of 3.43, just slightly ahead of cross country, with a team GPA of 3.40.
• 9.2% of our student-athletes had perfect 4.00 GPAs; 40.4% were between 3.50 and 3.99; and, 75.9% were at 3.00 or above. All three of these figures are believed to be records.