By Chip Towers
St. Simons Island – The first day of the Georgia Athletic Association’s annual end-of-the-year board meeting just ended here at the King and Prince Resort.
Board members headed out to play golf or spend Thursday afternoon on the beach before reconvening for a reception and dinner this evening. They will resume the meetings with an academic presentation Friday morning.
Other than the recent firing of baseball coach David Perno, there was nothing but positive news bubbling out of the “Retreat Room” overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Following are some of the highlights that occurred in discussions before during and after the meeting. I’ll file full report later that can be accessed on myajc.com. . . .
- The board approved a $93.2 million budget for fiscal year 2014. According to Frank Crumley, Georgia’s senior executive AD for business, that’s about middle of the pack for the SEC.
- Overall revenues for 2013 were up $3.6 million over previous year. Most of that was from football ticket revenue of $21.2 million, compared to $19.5 in 2012. Contributions were also up from $22.5 million to $23.3 million.
- The board approved $2.18 million for improvement projects out of its reserve. The improvements include: $1.25 for Sanford Stadium (modernize premium seating areas, add closed caption display boards for hearing impaired, ticket scanning capabilities); $330,000 Stegeman Coliseum athletic training room expansion; $300,000 for study and designs to upgrade turf fields and replace block wall between Woodruff Practice Fields and Smith Street; $130,000 for equestrian facility improvements; The rest for tennis court resurfacing ($80,000) and resolving soccer/softball complex electrical issues ($90,000).
- It was reported that the Jason Aldean Concert at Sanford Stadium netted $200,000 for the athletic association. Money will be used to install a new irrigation system for the field.
- Athletic Director Greg McGarity spoke for the first time about his decision to dismiss Perno:
“Those are really the toughest days in our business, in our profession. In every situation we’ve had, they’re good people. A lot of them are friends. We’ve always said, and my staff has heard me say it many times, you have to do what’s best for the institution. It may not be best for the individual, but those are the decisions I have to make and I’m accountable for those. So, yeah, they’re extremely difficult. There’s not fun in that at all.”
- McGarity was vague about when or who UGA might hire to succeed Perno:
“We will hire a great coach. I’ll leave it at that,” he said. “We’re not boxing ourselves in saying we want to have it done by this date. We’ll do our due diligence. We have worked hard on this the last three days and will continue to work on it. But a lot of institutions are still in conference play and a lot will be in NCAA play. So we want to handle this the right way and be respectful of teams that have teams in NCAA play.”
- There was much discussion about a possible nine-game conference schedule for SEC teams in the future and about the new SEC Network television deal. I’ll have more on this later but, bottom line, it will come down to a vote at the SEC Meetings in Destin next week. McGarity is “willing to listen” but would not commit as to whether Georgia favors nine or eight games.
“All it will come down to is a vote, if and when it comes to a vote. Right now we’re moving ahead with the 6-1-1 schedule. That’s what was approved in Destin. . . . I’m not sure where other schools stand but we haven’t even had that discussion yet. When we do, I’m sure there will be hands up. But at the end of the day, the presidents will decide, like everything else in the conference. . . . We just want to get ’14 done so people can plan homecoming and people can plan weddings and we can get hotels on the road.”
- President Michael Adams on possibility of a nine-game SEC schedule:
“That’s one that cuts both ways. On one hand you give the fans a better experience in the regular season, but you may not give them as good of an experience at bowl game time if we beat each other up more during the year. So I’m going to listen to the discussion in Destin. But I’m probably going to be guided by what the AD and the next crowd wants to do since I’m not going to have to live with it.”
- 2016 football game with FSU is highly unlikely.
“I think that is a long, long shot,” McGarity said. “You heard today the impact of not having seven (home) games. While that game (Chick-fil-A Kickoff) may make you whole from a budget standpoint, it still (impacts) you from a community standpoint. We’re very sensitive to our role in the community, and if it’s not the best thing for the community, there’s no question it is not. But I’ve kept an open mind and when I’m brought ideas I never shut the door. We talk about it. That’s all we’ve done at this point. I haven’t even talked to Mark (Richt) about it.”