Georgia board extends AD Greg McGarity one year

University of Georgia president Jere Morehead puts to vote the contract extension of Athletic Director Greg McGarity during board meeting June 4, 2020. (Video by Chip Towers)

One of the lower-paid athletic directors in the SEC will continue to oversee one of the more powerful and financially successful athletic departments for at least another year.

Greg McGarity, Georgia’s AD since the summer of 2010, accepted a one-year contract extension from the athletic association’s board of directors Thursday. McGarity has been working on a year-to-year basis since last year, when the four-year deal he signed in 2015 expired. The terms of last year’s agreement will continue, which are that McGarity will receive an automatic $25,000 raise each year he remains employed, plus an annual longevity bonus of $50,000.

McGarity earned $750,000 the past fiscal year, which ends June 30, and will earn $775,000 through next June. However, that remains in the bottom one-third of SEC athletic directors, which UGA President Jere Morehead acknowledged after the meeting.

“It does put him in the lower tier of the SEC and the Power 5, but he has never done this job based on money,” Morehead said. “And given the circumstances that we’re faced with in the country right now and the uncertainty, Greg did not make that an issue in our discussions. He just wanted to extend normally the same way he’s extended in the past several years.”

McGarity said he is satisfied with his compensation. He’s 65, fully vested and can walk away at any time.

“I’ve always looked at it as serving my alma mater,” McGarity said. “I also felt like that consistency is really important right now. I’m respectful of the president’s time. My gosh, everything he has to deal with, with the campus as a whole, I certainly didn’t want my situation or our situation to be a part of that concern at this time.

“Really, from a family history standpoint, both my parents went to the University of Georgia, they both worked at the University of Georgia, my wife, my son graduated from here. I’ve got a lot of respect for this institution to our family. It’s a big deal for me personally to serve in this role and help us navigate these difficult times.”

Morehead said, and McGarity corroborated, that the one-year commitments are McGarity’s preference.

“I can say definitely that’s the way he wants it,” Morehead said. “I’ll be happy to have Greg as athletic director as long as I’m president of the university, but he prefers this approach. So, I’m just happy that he has agreed to stay on this year and that we have extended it in the same fashion that we’ve been doing year by year.”

“I think particularly now, with all that we’re going through in this country and intercollegiate athletics, as well as all the challenges that we face, Greg’s experience and having that continuity is really good for UGA at this time. I appreciate his willingness to serve.”

McGarity was a letterman on the 1973 Bulldogs tennis team and began his professional career at UGA immediately after graduating in 1977. He held positions as assistant sports information director and head women’s tennis coach (1977-81), administrative assistant (1982-88), and assistant athletic director for facilities and event management (1988-92).

McGarity left Georgia to work at Florida. There he rose to the position of senior associate AD under Jeremy Foley before returning to UGA in the summer of 2010.

Since then, McGarity has overseen more than $200 million worth of sports facility improvements at UGA. The latest – an $80 million expansion of the Butts-Mehre football complex – was reported at Thursday’s meeting to be on-time and on-budget for a 2021 completion.

The board also approved a $149.4 million budget Thursday, which was down $4 million from last year. But along with a reserve fund that tops $100 million, Georgia’s program remains one of the most financially robust in college athletics.

“I know (SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey) shares the view that you are one of the key athletic directors that he relies for also most everything, given your service and your good judgment,” Morehead said after the board unanimously approved the extension. “I know he’ll be particularly pleased to learn of this development.”

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