Former Georgia AD Greg McGarity takes over Gator Bowl Sports

Former University of Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity. (Photo by Dale Zanine)
Former University of Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity. (Photo by Dale Zanine)

Credit: Dale Zanine

Credit: Dale Zanine

ATHENS — Former Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity is taking over Gator Bowl Sports.

McGarity, who retired from UGA five days ago, was announced as the new president and CEO of Gator Bowl Sports on Tuesday. McGarity, 66, will succeed longtime president and CEO Rick Catlett, who’s retiring after 29 years as head of the Gator Bowl.

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Officially he’ll assume the role March 1, so there’s still time to resurrect his tennis and golf games, as he discussed doing not very long ago.

“The last two jobs I’ve taken, I left on a Friday and started the other the next Monday,” McGarity said. “That was just too much. I had no break. So that was part of this, and I’ll be here to help my wife with all this transition and be a permanent resident.”

Despite the timing, McGarity insisted that it wasn’t a preconceived plan. He and his wife, Sheryl, originally planned to retire to Long Boat Key in southwest Florida. He has always planned to continue to work but not in college athletics.

As it turned out, the McGaritys received an unexpected cash offer on their Athens’ home while visiting their son, Alex, in Jacksonville in May. They ended up finding a home nearby in Ponte Vedra Beach that weekend, and Sheryl relocated there in June.

Alex McGarity also works for the Gator Bowl, so Catlett was well aware of the situation. McGarity’s last official day as Georgia’s AD was Dec. 31. That ended a career in college athletics that spanned five decades.

“Rick had always said, ‘whenever you hang it up, give me a call,’” McGarity said shortly after a mid-afternoon virtual news conference in Jacksonville. “I really hadn’t thought about it much. Then he called me right after my retirement announcement and asked me what I was thinking about it. We met on Dec. 22 along with some trustees, and it all just kind of came together. The stars just aligned.”

In Jacksonville, McGarity won’t be handling the complicated day-to-day intricacies of a 21-sport, Power 5 university athletic department. Gator Bowl Sports is a division of the Jacksonville Sports Council and oversees the annual TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, which pits an ACC team against an SEC team each year.

Gator Bowl Sports’ purview at one point included the Georgia-Florida game. But McGarity said negotiations for the annual regular-season game played Jacksonville every year but two since 1933 are now handled by mayor’s office. The contract between UGA and Florida is set to expire in three years. McGarity said he won’t be involved in negotiations.

At UGA, McGarity oversaw an athletic budget that grew to more than $150 million during his tenure. He also managed more than $300 million worth of new construction and facilities renovation projects, including the indoor practice facility, the west end expansion at Sanford Stadium and an $80 million football facility project that’s scheduled to be finished in 2022 but will be partially in use by late spring.

McGarity is looking forward to a slightly slower pace.

“I didn’t have to work, but it was just too good to pass up,” he said. “Rick’s been here almost three decades, and this is not a job that opens up (often). There’s a lot of familiarity just because of my relationship to the (Georgia-Florida) game, and I know so many people on both sides. And so it was a good fit.”

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