Mark Fox has his core competencies and weaknesses, but what if he has been in the wrong role the entire time?
Mark Fox has been in the coaching profession for more than two decades, he has seen and experienced a lot in his career. Fox has been steadfast in his adherence to rules, upholding academic standards, encouraging his student-athletes to make the most of their academic experience, politicking effectively with powerful boosters and saying ‘NO’ to special interests. Mark Fox as documented well in this publication has reached his peak and now is at a plateau as a coach, he is not going to change who he is, but his core values and experience are elite and suited to doing something else. Something FAR MORE IMPORTANT. Why limit his positive contributions to the lives of 15 young men per year?
Mark Fox should not be fired, he should be transitioned.
This is the Case for Mark Fox to be the Next J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics at the University of Georgia.
It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Mark Fox is passionate about all things at the University of Georgia. From the Football Team to the Herpetology Program, Fox exudes pride in everything that this wonderful and ascendant institution has to offer. He bleeds Red and Black. He wants to be at UGA for as long as President Jere Morehead wants him here, why not have him here for longer than a tenure as a Men’s Basketball Coach? Fox’s expectations are high and he’s a stickler for the little things. He wants to show his pride, but he is strapped for time because he does have to coach a Men’s Basketball Team. Fox takes pride in not harming the University of Georgia, he’s not perfect and he has made tactical errors within the scope of his present role. However, his goal is to elevate UGA above else and nobody at the University of Georgia publicizes and emphasizes it more than him.
UGA is changing and everyone has been blind to what Fox presents to this University in this shift from a public flagship university in the Deep South to a National Research University that is taking steps to join the elite. Athletic programs are the most visible way that Universities present themselves to the public. Criminal activity, sleaziness, academic fraud and losing sight of the mission of the University are things that taint opinion.
Mark Fox Keeps Things Compliant and Clean
Every program at the University of Georgia must remain compliant with rules and laws. As seen, the FBI has now stepped in and investigated individuals who are committing FEDERAL CRIMES. The individuals are representatives of their employer, which is the University. Should the rules change? Absolutely, but the NCAA are not likely to make changes until there are class action suits and widespread FBI activity rendering them impotent and incompetent. It is a lot like the FIFA probe, but this really hits close to home.
Mark Fox has not given into temptation even when recruiting on the AAU circuit (yes, Fox recruits at AAU events). He and his staff have maintained steadfast in their principles, are willing to have a presence and are selling recruits to come to UGA in an ethical and legal fashion. UGA Basketball has not had an NCAA violation and the recruiting efforts have progressed to the point where the program enjoys depth. Most believe that College Basketball recruiting is the dirtiest, it is not, but the people who are making the decisions (The Powers That Be) think it is the case. This is a case where letting them believe the lie due to their own prejudices is beneficial.
Hear much about Georgia Basketball in the Crime Watch section? Amazing how quickly problems are resolved under Mark Fox. J.J. Frazier got his Driver’s License issue addressed, Albert Jackson made amends about his accidental hit-and-run of a parked car and when Brandon Morris was charged with possessing marijuana with an intent to distribute he was quickly dismissed from the team. Mark Fox’s discipline and commitment to discipline fits with “The Georgia Way”. There was no “love ’em up” talk nor any pressure to play guys who ran afoul of the law, just a summary dismissal. There are rules and if they are broken, there are consequences – just like real life.
Mark Fox Cares About UGA Academics and Sells it VERY WELL
At many programs, student-athletes are steered into majors just for the purposes of maintaining eligiblity so that they can play and help win games. This does not happen with UGA Basketball. Consider the shame that would be associated with student-athletes being steered into majors that will not serve them later on in life. UNC-Chapel Hill may forever be associated with their academic fraud sins. There are standards that must be met and each student-athlete has to follow in an academic path that suits their interests. Unfortunately, student-athletes are not granted the time to do that as UCLA Quarterback Josh Rosen pointed out.
The University of Georgia has come a long way since the Jan Kemp scandal and as an academic institution is no longer on par with fellow Deep South institutions. UGA’s peers are the University of Florida, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Pennsylvania State University-University Park and The Ohio State University. UGA’s peers are not the University of Alabama, Auburn University, Ole Miss, Louisiana State University and the University of Tennessee. This may be a fact that is hard to swallow, but this is a different and better University of Georgia. The ascendancy will continue and this has contributed to an alumni base that is truly global. It’s wonderful and the University of Georgia Athletic Association needs to reflect these changes. To be the best, setting the right example is the way to do it.
Mark Fox is the most qualified individual to raise the standards and expectations of the student-athlete at the University of Georgia. Mark Fox has raised GPAs and graduation rates significantly, catered to the academic needs of his student-athletes, sold the academic programs to student-athletes, built relationships with the Deans of the University of Georgia, encouraged his student-athletes to make the most of their educational experience and celebrates academic achievements like no other coach. Mark Fox gets it. He knows what UGA is supposed to be and he demands that his student-athletes are students first.
Imagine if all student-athletes at the University of Georgia were able to get this sort of an experience. It’s almost downright selfish to just want that influence, set of expectations and inspiration to be bestowed only upon 15 young men per year.
Shouldn’t every UGA student-athlete have an Athletic Director who cares about what their 35-to-40 year old self would be like? Mark Fox still coaches his guys who have graduated and welcomes them back. Possibly the best endorsements could come from past Lettermen: Marcus Thornton, Gerald Robinson Jr., Dustin Ware, Nemanja Djurisic, Houston Kessler, Jeremy Price, Luke Babbitt, Ramon Sessions, Kenny Paul Geno, Kenny Gaines and others can testify to Mark Fox’s commitment to them as students.
Yante Maten was able to learn about lizards and pursue his academic passion, Kenny Gaines was encouraged to be a part of the Music Business certificate program and Houston Kessler is in Law School. Fox pulled out all of the academic stops to entice Herb Jones to commit to Georgia, he scheduled a meeting with the Director of the J.M. Tull School of Accounting.
Mark Fox could bring this sort of passion and commitment to internal policy and institute a improved Georgia Way.
Mark Fox has the Relationships and Support
Yes, it is important as an Athletic Director to fundraise for the University. Revenue means resources to be applied to all sports. Mark Fox has built powerful relationships with all of the major donors, including University System Regent Don Leebern Jr.
Mark Fox will not be the puppet that Greg McGarity is because he has standards and expectations, but he will find ways to garner contributions in an ethical fashion. Mark Fox as the J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics would be a uniter rather than divider. He would be the representative who can cheer on the cash cow of Football, but expand the portfolio of the fans, alumni and students.
Fox knows how to play politics with the local media and get the national media to gush over him. Greg McGarity is a tone deaf dotard. Fox may make excuses in his current role as a coach, but his stubborn nature and overall relatability is a major upgrade. McGarity represents the 65+ crowd, Fox would be able to attract all age groups and that means a more age-diversified donor list.
If UGA is to come to come together and truly be BULLDOG NATION, Mark Fox is not only the right choice, he is the only choice.
If he is anointed as the J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics of the University of Georgia, he will have to make a tough choice: Jonas Hayes or Philip Pearson.
It’s time to come together, here’s the ultimate olive branch. It’s time to turn the page at the University of Georgia Athletic Association. The right person to succeed Greg McGarity has been under our collective noses this entire time. Mark Fox is the right person to help MAKE UGA GREAT.