The regents introduced a 10% furlough model in May that has been circulating through state agencies. It calls for a five-tiered approach that includes 16-day unpaid for employees that earn $154,000 or more in base salary and decreases down to zero days for those earning less than $33,475.
In that scenario, Smart and most of Georgia's coaches in all sports would be required not to work for 16 days. The athletic association has about 300 full-time employees.
“What we all have to remember is we’re all part of the university,” McGarity said. “We’re structured differently, of course, but the majority of our staff is enrolled in the teacher’s retirement system and in the university’s insurance program. So while we don’t receive any state funds, we are part of the university as far as the benefits plan.”
There is precedent. In August 2009, all state universities were required to furlough employees for FY 2010 because of budget constraints caused by the recession. UGA Athletics participated alongside the university then, too.
UGA came up with specific furlough dates for the entire institution. However, it gave the coaches the latitude to take off different days if they conflicted with games or preparation, which they did in October and November that fall.
On their own, the Bulldogs could easily weather an economic storm. The Georgia Athletic Association currently has $102 million in reserve funds, about $65 million of which is unallocated. UGA Athletics also donated $5 million to the university, following its pattern of making an annual donation. In May, the board of directors approved a $149.4 million budget.
“In athletics, we try to be like everyone else on campus,” McGarity said. “We try to mirror as much as we can what our peers are experiencing on campus.”
Georgia Tech, at its end-of-year board meeting Wednesday, announced that it would, in fact, implement a 10 percent furlough of athletics' employees over the next year. But the Yellow Jackets were doing it as a cost-cutting measure for their financially strapped athletic department.