The Board of the University of Georgia Athletic Association, meeting on Lake Oconee, signs off on a contract extension for UGA Athletic Director Josh Brooks. He gets another six years, with a salary increase of more than $1 million.
From Tray Littlefield, UGA Sports Communications...
A contract extension for J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks, a glowing academic report and presentations from Brooks and University of Georgia president Jere W. Morehead highlighted the first day of the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors annual spring meeting on Thursday.
President Morehead announced that Brooks’ contract will be extended six years, to June, 2029, with an increased compensation package of $1.025 million that will escalate $100,000 per year.
“I am extremely grateful,” Brooks said. “I got into this business 20-plus years ago as a student equipment manager. My first job at Louisiana Monroe was making $20,000 a year in football operations. I never got into this business to make money. I got into this because I love to serve student-athletes and work in college athletics.
“Working in Athens and at the University of Georgia is a dream for me. I want to spend the rest of my career here. I want to retire here. It’s a blessing and it is extremely gratifying to see your hard work be recognized. Again, it is not about the money for me. It is more about the years because I want to be here for a very long time.”
In his report, Brooks touched on a wide range of topics, including:
Academic Achievements of UGA Student-Athletes
- Bulldog student-athletes boasted a record-setting 3.22 fall GPA and the second-highest spring GPA in Georgia history with a 3.18. Brooks also noted the 3.19 cumulative GPA for this academic year is the highest on record for Georgia student-athletes.
- Callie Dickinson — a member of the Georgia women’s swimming and diving program — along with football student-athlete Jack Podlesny earned SEC postgraduate scholarships.
- Dickinson also garnered the H. Boyd McWhorter SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year Award, the highest honor a SEC student-athlete can receive. Brooks stated the Georgia men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs have earned this award nine times — more than any other program in the SEC. Georgia also ties for the conference lead with 11 overall winners.
- Volleyball’s Sage Powell and track and field’s Matthew Boling were named SEC Brad Davis Award Winners. Boling also earned SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year for a record-breaking fourth time in his career.
- Brooks highlighted the more than 50 student-athletes who have summer internships and five who will participate in study abroad programs.
Winter and Spring Athletic Achievements
- Brooks noted the success of basketball coaches Mike White and Katie Abrahamson-Henderson in their first seasons leading Georgia basketball.
- White’s team boasted the second-best win improvement in the nation last year and signed the No. 13-ranked recruiting class in the country for the upcoming season. Coach ABE — the Atlanta Tip-Off Club Coach of the Year — led the Lady Bulldogs to the program’s most wins in five years with 22 victories and a NCAA tournament berth.
- Brooks also praised the success of Georgia’s men’s and women’s tennis teams that each won SEC titles and made deep runs in the NCAA tournament. Brooks noted that the men’s and women’s golf teams swept individual and team titles at NCAA regionals on their way to nationals.
- Softball advanced to a Super Regional after a second-place finish in the SEC standings under the leadership of head coach Tony Baldwin.
- Both track and field programs will compete in the NCAA outdoor championships after top-5 finishes in the indoor championships. Head Coach Caryl Smith Gilbert was named the USTFCCCA South Region Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year.
- Brooks praised Keidane McAlpine for his leadership of the women’s soccer program, which signed the No. 1 returning player in women’s college soccer in Croix Bethune and Georgia native Hannah White.
- Brooks also paid tribute to legendary women’s tennis head coach Jeff Wallace, who is retiring after leading Georgia to 819 wins, 20 SEC titles and six national championships in 38 seasons. He also welcomed new women’s tennis head coach Drake Bernstein.
- He highlighted women’s golfer Jenny Bae, who finished runner-up at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and won the NCAA Athens Regional and also track and field’s Kyle Garland, who continues to excel in the decathlon.
- Brooks recognized six teams currently ranked in the top-10 nationally, including women’s tennis (second), men’s tennis (seventh), softball (seventh), men’s track (third), women’s track (eighth) and equestrian (sixth).
Learfield Directors’ Cup
- Brooks noted Georgia’s success in the Learfield Directors’ Cup. Although final rankings do not come out until June, Georgia is on pace to finish in the top-10 following a No. 27-ranking at the conclusion of the fall and a No. 13 mark in the winter.
SEC Coaches of the Year
- Brooks recognized football’s Kirby Smart, men’s tennis’ Manny Diaz and volleyball’s Tom Black for earning SEC Coach of the Year honors.
- Brooks gave an update on several facility projects, including the Bauerle Pool at the Ramsey Center, which will be named in honor of legendary Georgia swimming and diving coach Jack Bauerle.
- Construction is on schedule at the six-court Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Tennis Facility,
- Sanford Stadium South Side improvements are still on schedule. Phase 1 is set to finish in August of 2023, with Phase 2 to follow.
- Construction on Foley Field and the Jack Turner Softball Stadium will begin this summer. The $45 million Foley Field project and $38.5 million Jack Turner Stadium improvements were approved earlier this spring.
- The Foley Field project includes additional seating, new locker room, coaches offices, hitting labs, pitching labs and expanding the canopy on existing seats.
- The Jack Turner Stadium addition will include pitching and hitting labs, locker room and a new weight room for several sports.
- Updates to the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall museum are slated to begin this summer. The emphasis on that project will focus on honoring Coach Vince Dooley as well as Georgia’s national championships.
- Brooks also announced a new basketball weight room in Stegeman Coliseum for both men’s and women’s basketball. The project budget is $1.8 million, with renovations set to take place between May-August, 2023.
- The Georgia Bulldog Club raised a record total of $86.4 million in 2022, and has already topped that mark with a new school record of $97.7 million raised so far in 2023.
Highlights of President Jere W. Morehead’s remarks included:
- President Morehead celebrated the conclusion of an historic year at the University of Georgia and congratulated the more than 7,600 students who graduated during ceremonies this spring
- He praised the UGA Alumni Association, which now totals more than 350,000 members.
- President Morehead thanked everyone in the athletic department who made sure commencement could be held at Sanford Stadium, with a special thanks to Brooks for helping free up additional seats at the stadium for graduation.
- He also extended a congratulations to Brooks for being named one of six finalists for the Sports Business Journal Athletic Director of the Year award. He stated this was a terrific recognition, especially after only two years as Georgia’s athletic director.
- President Morehead concluded his remarks by thanking members of the Athletic Board for their tremendous work this year.
Professor David Shipley, Faculty Athletics Representative, gave his academic report, which included the following highlights:
- In addition to a record-setting 3.19 GPA this year for Georgia student-athletes, Shipley pointed out that men’s tennis led all men’s teams with a 3.71 team GPA, while women’s cross country led all women’s sports with a 3.75 GPA.
- Shipley emphasized that 341 Georgia student-athletes — 65.9 percent — finished at or above a 3.0 GPA this spring.
- Callie Dickinson became the fourth Georgia student-athlete during Shipley’s tenure to earn the prestigious H. Boyd McWhorter SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year honor. Dickinson is completing her master’s degree in comparative biomedical sciences and plans to attend medical school to become an orthopedic surgeon.
- He also noted that both men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams were selected as Scholar All-America Teams by the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America.
- A total of 99 Georgia student-athletes received their degrees on May 11 and 12.
- 78 Georgia student-athletes were named to the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll, while 75 were named to the SEC Winter Academic Honor Roll for having a GPA of 3.0 or higher and a minimum of 24 hours.
- Shipley ended his remarks by praising former Bulldog football star and current Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Nakobe Dean, who is back on campus taking classes to finish his in mechanical degree. Former Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell was the keynote speaker for the Phi Kappa Phi Honors society.
Georgia head coaches McAlpine, Black and Stefanie Williams Moreno participated in a panel discussion facilitated by Senior Deputy AD Darrice Griffin. Highlights of that conversation included:
- Each coach gave reports on their respective programs.
- Volleyball had its first All-American in 20 years with Kacie Evans, who returns this season, while soccer made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014. It was the soccer program’s first time to host a NCAA tournament match since 2007.
- One of the topics discussed was the biggest challenge facing coaches today. Coach McAlpine mentioned keeping culture where it needs to be as well as providing opportunities for student-athletes and ensuring student-athlete health and well-being.
- Coach Moreno emphasized the three things they look for in student-athletes — person, student-athlete, athlete. She noted that Georgia has done a fantastic job with taking care of student-athletes and preparing them for life.
- Coach Black mentioned his goals of having a nationally prominent program, preparing student-athletes for life and then enjoying what the program does each day.
Below are quotes from President Morehead and Brooks following Thursday’s board meeting.
President Jere W. Morehead
On the decision to extend Brooks’ contract …
“He is down to two years remaining on his current contract, and all of his peers in the SEC have longer pending contracts, so I thought it was important to show Josh our collective confidence in his performance and our desire that he remain the athletic director at the University of Georgia for an extended period of time.”
J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks
On the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings …
“You do not end up near the top of the Learfield Cup one day without making that a goal and a priority. I think we have to say it and we have to believe in it. Obviously, it is a challenge. We know there are other universities that have many more sports programs — you can only count 19, but they get to drop lower scores. It is a comprehensive look at all your teams. You look at your teams that aren’t scoring and how do we get them scoring? How do we get the ones that are scoring to go higher? There are still so many things to happen, but I am projecting us to have a very good finish. It is going to be a tough race for the top spot in the SEC — a razor-thin margin between a handful of schools — so it will be fun to watch this play out.”
On improvements to Foley Field…
“The focus is on student-athlete amenities first and foremost. We are talking about the locker room, the lounge, the hitting facility, the pitching lab — the areas that they spend 365 days in. We know when this project is done it still won’t be as big as some other schools that have larger capacities, and we may grow one day to larger points, but our first focus has to be on student-athlete amenities, so when they are recruiting they get to see where they will spend their time. When this project is complete, it will be in line with all of our peers in terms of student-athlete spaces.”
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