Georgia AD Greg McGarity to retire at year’s end

ATHENS — Soon after arriving at UGA as a veteran athletic administrator, Greg McGarity said he couldn’t see himself working as Georgia’s athletic director for more than 10 years. Well, he’s done the job for nearly 11 years now, and he will stop there.

McGarity, a native Athenian, a UGA alum, a Georgia tennis letterman, women’s tennis coach and sports information assistant, a 50-year veteran of college athletics, officially will retire at year’s end. The school made the announcement Monday afternoon after the news was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

McGarity did not return messages seeking comment. However, in a statement issued by the school, McGarity said: “I want to thank President (Jere) Morehead for all of his support and guidance over the years. I step down knowing that our Athletic Association is in great hands under his strong leadership. To our coaches, athletic staff, and student-athletes — you have made the last decade the very best of my career, and I thank you for your dedication to excellence in athletics. You are the heart and soul of our program, and it has truly been an honor to serve alongside you as athletic director. Finally, my thanks to our alumni, donors, and fans for your unyielding support of Georgia athletics. There is no better fan base in college sports than the Bulldog Nation.”

Josh Brooks, who has served as senior deputy AD under McGarity since 2016, will serve as interim athletic director while UGA conducts a national search. Brooks is also expected to be candidate for the permanent job. Darrice Griffin will assume Brooks’ role as senior deputy director of athletics.

Virginia AD Carla Green Williams and Georgia football letterman Chris Welton are among others who are expected to be considered as McGarity’s successor.

“As for next steps, I think one of the best things Greg has done is put together a tremendous staff in the athletic department,” said Georgia football letterman Jon Stinchcomb, who current serves on the athletic association’s board of directors. “They’re all highly capable individuals. I expect Josh Brooks and that entire department to continue to thrive just because of the practices and protocols that Greg created over there. I don’t know who all would be candidates, but based on my discussions with Josh in the past, I’m sure he would be more than adept at stepping into that role.”

McGarity’s decision to retire is not a surprise. Now 66, it has been openly discussed for the last two years as McGarity’s contract with UGA expired in 2018. But Morehead encouraged McGarity to stay on, and he has worked on one-year deals since then. He accepted a one-year extension and raise to $775,000 this past June.

Also, McGarity recently sold his east Athens home and his wife Sheryl has already relocated to the Jacksonville area, where their son Alex lives.

“I think he’s done a terrific job, especially in the circumstance of this year,” said former Georgia AD and football coach Vince Dooley, who hired McGarity as an assistant AD in 1982. “From the beginning I was very much in favor and pleased when he was selected to be the athletic director. I thought it was right and a good choice.”

McGarity took over as Georgia’s athletic director on Aug. 13, 2010. He succeeded Damon Evans, who had abruptly been dismissed five weeks before. McGarity returned to UGA after 18 years at Florida as Jeremy Foley’s senior associate AD.

Since arriving at Georgia, McGarity has overseen an annual budget that has grown to more than $120 million. He also has supervised nearly $200 million in new facility and expansion projects. The Bulldogs have won seven national championships during his tenure and 15 UGA athletes have earned NCAA post-graduate scholarships.

“Greg McGarity is one the most respected athletic directors in the Southeastern Conference and I have relied on him regularly for advice and counsel over the years,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement.

McGarity’s greatest legacy will be hiring football coach Kirby Smart. He controversially fired Mark Richt at the end of the 2015 season in order to position the Bulldogs to hire Smart, who was leaving Alabama as defensive coordinator and thought to be headed to South Carolina as Steve Spurrier’s successor. Smart has won an SEC championship, three SEC Eastern Division titles and played in the 2017 national championship game so far.

“He made a tough decision with that and it certainly has proven to be a good decision, a great decision,” Dooley said. “And he has managed Georgia through this pandemic crisis, which is almost like a daily thing to deal with. I thought he and the conference did a terrific job of making a plan for it.”

McGarity also made the moves necessary to bring basketball coach Tom Crean to Athens and helped navigate Georgia through NCAA controversies involving the tennis and swimming programs.

McGarity was born and raised in Athens and grew up playing tennis and assisting the late Dan Magill with camps and the maintenance of the Georgia tennis courts. He was a letterman on the Bulldogs’ 1973 men’s tennis team and graduated from UGA with a degree in journalism in 1976.

As a student, McGarity worked as an assistant sports information director (1973-77). After graduation, McGarity continued to work for Georgia as head women’s tennis coach (1977-81), ticket office administrator (1982-88) and assistant athletic director for facilities and event management (1988-92).

McGarity is married to the former Sheryl Holland, who graduated from UGA in 1976. Their son Alex also graduated from Georgia.

Morehead appointed an 11-person advisory committee to select the next athletic director. Kessel Stelling, a member of both the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents and the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors, will chair the committee.