Matthew Stafford, Kirby Smart donate $500K to start social justice initiative at UGA

Former UGA quarterback Matt Stafford and wife Kelly Stafford, here posing in their engagement photo shoot at Sanford Stadium, have donated $350,000 to a diversity and social justice initiative launched by UGA on Friday.

Credit: Genya O’Neall / Vue Photography

Credit: Genya O’Neall / Vue Photography

For years, the Georgia Athletic Association has been working with UGA alumnus Matthew Stafford to find ways for the star quarterback to give back to his alma mater. It appears they discovered such a way.

Stafford and his wife, Kelly, have joined forces with fellow UGA alums Kirby and Mary Beth Smart to contribute the seed money to start a “diversity, inclusion, equity and social-justice initiative.” The Staffords donated $350,000 and the Smarts added $150,000 to fund the initial cost of launching the program. Those initial commitments are “part of a larger gifts” to be donated by the two families in the future, according to a UGA news release distributed Friday.

“These gifts will help the Athletic Association educate, implement dynamic programming, and execute service opportunities to achieve our goals, those being to foster critical consciousness, cultural competence and further developing change within the Athletic Association and our greater community,” Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity said in the release.

“I am grateful to Matthew Stafford and Coach Kirby Smart for their generous gifts to fund this important initiative and am excited about the opportunity the program presents for us to promote an inclusive culture among our student-athletes, coaches, and staff,” UGA President Jere Morehead added.

The primary goal of this program is to continue developing an environment that will effect meaningful change in these areas for all the athletic association’s members, including athletes, coaches and staff.

Stafford, who starred for the Bulldogs from 2006-08, was listed as the 10th highest paid athlete in the world by Forbes Magazine in 2018. The Detroit Lions made Stafford the first pick of the 2009 NFL draft. In 11 seasons since then, Stafford has earned $211 million in salary from the Lions. He is due to make another $51.3 million over the next three years. He also earns millions in endorsements.

Stafford has passed for 41,025 yards, 256 touchdowns and 134 interceptions. He was the fourth quarterback in NFL history to for more than 5,000 yards in a season and holds the NFL record for the most comeback wins in a season, recording eight in the 2016 NFL season. In 2017, he signed a $135-million contract extension with the Lions, making him the highest-paid player in NFL history at the time.

Smart, who played safety for the Bulldogs from 1995-98, is the seventh highest-paid coach in college football, according to USA Today. He’ll make $6.8 million this year, according to the terms of a seven-year, $49 million contract he signed in 2018. He has been Georgia’s football coach since 2016. The Bulldogs have gone 44-12 and won one SEC championship during his tenure.

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