UGA’s revenue stream obviously will be smaller if there are crowd-size restrictions. Georgia reported Thursday it already has sold more than 56,000 season tickets, a school record after expanding the number available after last season.
But the budget approved by the athletic association’s board Thursday indicates UGA is expecting financial repercussions from the pandemic. The $149.4 million represents a decrease of more than $4 million from the current fiscal year, which concludes at the end of this month.
Meanwhile, the athletic department has internal models that it hasn’t shared publicly of budgets altered to reflect reduced spectator capacity for football and other sports.
“It’s all dependent on the definition of mass gatherings,” McGarity said. “So, if it’s 50 percent occupancy or 25 percent or everybody can come, you know, we just don't know. We'll know more at the end of this month. We'll know a lot more by Aug. 1. At some point in time we have to know and be very clear in communicating our plan. But that's not important today.”
McGarity did say that ticket holders would be refunded not just for the price of the tickets, but also for the donations that are required for the right to purchase the seats.
“We don't really need to go in that direction right now because our first home game is not until September,” McGarity said.
Georgia opens the season Sept. 7 – Labor Day night -- against Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Bulldogs’ first game on campus is Sept. 12 against East Tennessee State.
Football players and men’s and women’s basketball players were approved by the SEC to return to campus for voluntary workouts June 8. So far, only Georgia football players have been cleared to do so.
Meanwhile, Morehead said that the university is anticipating “face-to-face instruction” for fall semester, which begins in August.
McGarity said continued incremental progress in that direction make a normal football schedule with fans in attendance a distinct possibility. The key is no major setbacks.
“That's why I think these next four weeks are going to be critical to see how each campus is handling the spread of the virus,” McGarity said “You know, we can only have our arms around these young men while they're here for voluntary workouts. Now what they do when they leave our building … is going to be important. … But I just feel really good about it because these young men really want to play the season and they’re going to do everything that can to do their part.”
In other board business Thursday:
• Athletic Director Greg McGarity was approved for a one-year contract extension.
• Sophomore wide receiver Kearis Jackson was introduced as a one of two new athlete representatives on the board for 2020-21. The other was senior soccer player Carolina Chipman. A non-athlete student will be elected in the fall.
• Deputy AD Josh Brooks said ongoing construction of the $80 million Butts-Mehre expansion for football is “on-time and on-budget” despite inordinately wet weather in January and February and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March. The first phase is set to be open for use in January of 2021.
• Faculty athletics representative David Shipley reported a record 3.34 overall GPA for UGA athletes for spring semester despite having to move to online instruction midway through the term.