UGA athletic board approves record budget

Georgia football-Cameron Kinnie-UCF

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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A Georgia flag is run onto the field before the G-Day game at Sanford Stadium Saturday, April 16, 2022, in Athens, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

ATHENS – The Georgia Athletic Association Board of Directors on Friday unanimously approved a record budget of $162.3 million during the final day of its spring meeting on Lake Oconee.

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The projected budget for fiscal year 2023 represented an increase of just under 8% over 2022, which concludes at the end of June. Higher revenues are expected because of an “uptick” in donations to Hartman Fund for football tickets, a lucrative neutral-site game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against Oregon in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game and an increased distribution from the SEC.

Including other revenue streams, it adds up to an operating budget of $162,278,743, highest in Georgia athletics history.

Athletic Director Josh Brooks said it a welcomed return to “pre-COVID numbers.”

“Last year there was a lot of uncertainty,” Brooks told the board. “This year is a return to normal projections as you look at budgets, when you talk about travel and recruiting. So, it’s more of a return to normal. We hope and project it to be a more ‘normal’ year and it’s reflected in the projected budget.”

Friday was the second day of the annual end-of-the-year spring meeting. On Thursday, the board approved an expenditure of $90.2 million to go toward two construction projects: the renovation and expansion of the southside grandstand at Sanford Stadium and $27.6 million to build a new indoor tennis facility at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Both projects will begin next year.

On Friday, the board heard wellness reports from student representatives Meg Kowalski (tennis), Josh Stinson (baseball) and Brennan Cox (student government). Cox proposed a series of changes to the student ticket policy, which were approved by the board.

David Shipley, a UGA law school professor who serves as faculty-athletics rep, pointed out that line items in the new budget are dedicated “to enhance the mental well-being of student-athletes.” The athletic department now employs five full-time mental-health professionals.

“It’s not just college athletes, it’s college students in general. We recognize that,” Brooks said. “We’re dealing with a lot of high-performing student-athletes that put a lot of pressure on themselves. We’re learning that the support we give them in that area goes a long way. They’ve embraced it. So, we want to support them on the court, on the field, in the classroom.”

The tenures of all three student representatives expired at the ended with the meeting. New reps for 2023 are softball player Jaiden Fields, a junior from Kennesaw, and sprinter Caleb Cavanaugh, a junior from Houston. The student-body representative will be announced at a later date.