Greg McGarity’s reign of incompetence, cowardice and alienation must end.
Often times, the dismissal of a C-Level executive in the sports world is not through a series of drips, but due to one act of mismanagement, malfeasance or misconduct. In Greg McGarity’s case, this is a matter that has been a series of drips that have happened along the way. The call for the firing of such a powerful individual in a position of high standing is not one to be taken lightly. However, in this case, a dismissal is merited.
The Dilution of the Calls for a Firing
The call to fire a particular coach, remove a head of state, re-do an election, imprison executives and other sorts of populist anger has become diluted to the point where when the argument is made, it is not taken seriously. In fact, the publicized desire to remove high standing individuals from their responsibilities has become such a flippant bumper sticker approach that it either gets lost in the noise or it becomes an argument that is negative associated with the individual or group of individuals making the argument (ad hominem fallacy/bias). The major problem is that wanting someone to be fired/removed/impeached/imprisoned is a reactive measure and thus provokes an emotional reaction. Emotional reactions do win in the court of public opinion and have had ugly consequences that are a massive stain on the history of human civilization.
The Standards are Lowering and Rising at the Same Time
Criminal Activity at Other Institutions pushes standards lower:
This is a standard that is basic or at least should be considered basic. Illegal activity is not to be tolerated. Felonies are not to be swept under the rug nor handled “internally”, they are to be addressed with the proper authorities. Tampering with evidence, influencing witnesses and suppressing justice were not commonly associated with Colleges and Universities, but now they are.
Quick aside: Colleges and Universities already have their own issues with due process and kangaroo courts as there is no accountability for their procedures. A college or university may throw a student out of school for a flimsy allegation of rape against them even if it is not deemed rape by enforcement and legal authorities. The scarlet ‘R’ follows the former student to wherever they may go in life, even in the case of a rape that never even happened. The mere recorded allegation placed as a flag on the record of the former student is an extremely effective defamatory tool that will destroy the individual’s well-being for the rest of their lives.
Fear and acceptance of the status quo have set in at many institutions. The bar has been lowered in reaction to events at Baylor University, University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Pennsylvania State University and University of Missouri – Columbia. One of the major problems is that in the cases of domestic abuse, child abuse, molestation and rape, the wrong authorities are being summoned first. Rape is not a Title IX issue, it is a criminal matter. Child abuse is not an inconvenient matter that can be brushed away, it is a criminal matter. The Colleges and Universities are ill-equipped to diagnose, handle and report criminal wrongdoing. Programs that are not in the news for these sorts of issues could easily be next and it is far too easy for each institution’s patronage to assume that their school is above board. The assumption that a different Head Coach or Athletic Director may turn a blind eye to these sorts of issues or the assumption that since a particular program has avoided these issues under a particular set of leaders will continue to do so is inappropriate, but common.
Political Correctness (Right and Left Wing) creates higher hurdles:
All it takes is one comment, on or off-the-record and everything gets ugly in an instant. Never has there been a time in the modern era where the use of language is so brutally analyzed to the point where expressing a fact or opinion is dangerous. On the Left, the Political Correctness nightmare entails not offending people of particular races, religions, genders, identified genders, sexual orientation, body shapes and other matters. People take great pains to avoid the wrath of the Left, but the Political Correctness of the Right is no prize either. The Political Correctness of the Right entails a sense of Protestant-based morality and jingoism that is not always shared and ostracizes those that do not fit into this sense of morality. This Political Correctness is evidenced through actual censorship, blue laws and accusations of traitorous deeds.
It is difficult for anyone dealing with the public to craft their words and activities to placate two senses of moral superiority. It results in extremely generalized speech and the overuse of cliches. The usage of someone else’s words to bludgeon them socially and professionally is rather commonplace. The standards and expectations are raised as individuals that are in positions of leadership and authority must maintain a neutral tone that is not to be construed one way or another.
The Athletic Performance Case for Removing Greg McGarity
This is what 95% of the supporters ONLY care about. Since this is the sole focus at the University of Georgia for a vast majority, not only has it been a massive disappointment, but it has been grossly misrepresented.
These sorts of results are worthy of the year-long hype? 3-3 in Participation Trophy Bowls, no SEC titles, no National Championship appearances and no finishes in the Top 4.
Many would bring up the disappointment of the Georgia Men’s Basketball Team losing to the SEC Regular Season Champion Texas A&M Aggies for the first time in humiliating fashion at Stegeman Coliseum, but these sorts of moments were rare compared to the annual emasculations suffered under Mark Richt. The Georgia Football Team would be much hyped and then lose in the most of embarrassing ways, even when considered a favorite!
- -1.5 point favorite against Alabama: Lost 38-10 at Home.
- +1.5 point underdog against Florida: Lost to Florida 27-3 in Jacksonville.
- -12 point favorite against Florida: Lost 38-20.
- -10.5 point favorite against Georgia Tech: Lost 30-24 at Home.
- -6.5 point favorite against Missouri: Lost 41-26 at Home.
- +1 point underdog against South Carolina: Lost 35-7.
No need to go back further here. Embarrassment and hype have been cornerstones for a program with patronage that believe that the Football Team has the same cachet as the early 1980s. A sport with such an overwhelming emphasis compared to other sports at a particular institution is supposed to be better than this.
Georgia Women’s Basketball was a powerhouse under Andy Landers, the only powerhouse that failed to win a National Championship. Landers was far from a failure and he was the example of consistency, but the program’s success slipped during the end of his tenure to the point where current coach Joni Taylor had to do a bit of rebuilding. All things considered at this time, Taylor has the program on the right track.
Landers unfortunately retired on a low point a season after registering the first losing season in conference play since 2001-02. Georgia fell back considerably in the conference pecking order over the past three seasons and needs to make the necessary improvements to once again be dominant in a much tougher conference.
Foley Field may have been renovated at a cost of $12 million, but it has yet to translate into a winning season. Georgia Baseball swiftly went from being on the cusp of winning a College World Series to becoming a subpar College Baseball program.
2008: One win away from winning the College World Series.
2009: A .500 record in conference play and a disappointing appearance in the NCAA Regionals in Tallahassee.
2010: 16-37 season going 5-23 in conference play. Lost 25-6 to Georgia Tech at Foley Field.
2011: 33-32 season and lost in the NCAA Regionals in Corvallis.
2012: 31-26 season and no postseason play.
2013: 21-31 season and 7-19 in conference play.
2014: 26-29-1 season and 11-17 in conference play.
2015: 26-28 season and 10-18 in conference play.
2016: 27-30 season and 11-19 in conference play.
Dave Perno coached the team through the 2013 season and then McGarity’s hire of Scott Stricklin has not resulted positively.
Not exactly the sport garnering much attention and not considered a “revenue” sport at the University of Georgia, but it is a sport with greater visibility with the SEC Network. Prior to the SEC Network, choppy video streams, live attendance and post-match articles on the Georgia Athletics site were the only ways to keep tabs on the team. It was easy for UGA Women’s Soccer to be in the shadows, but not anymore.
Prior to Greg McGarity’s arrival, Georgia Women’s Soccer was comparatively good. Riding on three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and five straight .500 or better seasons. This was the Patrick Baker era at the University of Georgia.
- 2005: 12-6-2, no NCAA Tournament.
- 2006: 10-9-0, no NCAA Tournament.
- 2007: 18-4-2, Second Round NCAA Tournament.
- 2008: 11-11-1, First Round NCAA Tournament.
- 2009: 15-6-1, Second Round NCAA Tournament.
Then McGarity came on board and things changed. McGarity’s decision making is not directly related to the success on the pitch, but it does not look right on two levels.
- 2010: 11-6-4, no NCAA Tournament.
- 2011: 13-7-2, Second Round NCAA Tournament.
- 2012: 7-11-2, no NCAA Tournament.
- 2013: 12-7-1, no NCAA Tournament.
- 2014: 10-8-2, First Round NCAA Tournament.
- 2015: 5-12-1, no NCAA Tournament.
Steve Holeman had taken his team to the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and after being eliminated from said tournament was fired. His team had went on a major slide that season after a 9-2 start. Holeman went 53-39-11 overall during his tenure at the University of Georgia. Holeman was Ole Miss’ first and only Head Coach and he jumped to UGA in April 2010 when Damon Evans brought him on board. Holeman replaced Baker who resigned to rearrange priorities with his family.
Holeman’s replacement after an NCAA Tournament appearance, former Duke assistant Billy Lesesne went 5-12-1 in the 2015 season.
Lizzy Stemke was Greg McGarity’s first hire at the University of Georgia. Her predecessor, Joel McCartney, went 62-55 and went 29-45 in conference action. McCartney was fired midseason by McGarity after his team struggled to find unity.
Stemke’s run has been disappointing. 66-87 in five seasons, it’s tough to swallow.
- 2011: 11-19 (7-13 in the SEC)
- 2012: 14-16 (8-12 in the SEC)
- 2013: 22-10 (11-7 in the SEC) – NCAA Tournament First Round Appearance
- 2014: 14-17 (5-13 in the SEC)
- 2015: 5-25 (0-18 in the SEC)
McGarity is really banking on a good season for Georgia Women’s Volleyball in 2016. Four out of five losing seasons including a team that was clearly unfit to the play in the conference last season. How unfit? This team only won three sets in SEC competition. It gets worse, they did not win a single set on the road and the last set they won was against Ole Miss on October 28, 2015. Georgia lost 29 sets in a row to close the season. Think about that. No sets won in the month of November.
Under Suzanne Yoculan, UGA was dominant in Women’s Gymnastics. The closest comparison to Suzanne Yoculan’s dominance in Athens would be John Wooden’s teams at UCLA. Yoculan decided to retire after the 2009 National Championship and spend more time with her husband, Don Leebern. Yoculan finished on top.
Assistant Jay Clark had a tough run replacing Yoculan. It was a dark era for UGA Women’s Gymnastics and he conveniently resigned and ended up as an assistant at LSU.
Danna Durante in her tenure at UGA has not had a team that has performed better than fifth at the Super Six. The most dominant program in College Women’s Gymnastics has been in the desert for seven years. Lowering expectations is not the appropriate reaction. Durante is an upgrade over Clark, but there are many coaches that would have been able to claim that.
In Football, it would be unreasonable for fans in 2016 to have a National Championship or bust mentality since the program has not won in it all since the 1980 season and has only two “official” National Championships. In Women’s Gymnastics, it is completely justified as the program did nothing but dominate until Suzanne Yoculan retired.
How many National Championships did UCLA win after the Wizard of Westwood retired? One. Jim Harrick did it in 1995 twenty years after John Wooden’s last National Championship.
Public Missteps and PR Disasters
McGarity’s predecessor, Damon Evans, made the ultimate misstep that led to his downfall as Athletic Director. No, it was not being the handpicked puppet administrator of UGA President Michael Adams, but rather it involved an incident where Evans was driving under the influence of alcohol and had a pair of red panties between his legs belonging to a fellow passenger that was not his wife.
Not Taking A Stand on Student-Athlete Compensation
A.J. Green sold his Independence Bowl jersey to an individual considered an agent in 2009 and the NCAA decided to suspend Green during the 2010 Season. Seizing the opportunity to send a message to other college programs with a newly installed Athletic Director and a University President with designs on becoming President of the NCAA himself, the NCAA suspended Green for four games and to repay the $1,000 he received to a charity. That same season, Alabama Defensive End Marcell Dareus was suspended only two games for receiving double the amount that Green received and receiving two paid trips to Miami.
There was little that the newly hired McGarity could do as he was installed as the Athletic Director on September 1, 2010. However, there was little fight from the UGA Athletic Association on the matter. No resolutions to make sure that the NCAA would not take advantage of student-athletes and the University of Georgia were put in place.
Bryan Allen compensated Todd Gurley for autographed memorabilia pieces in the amount of just over $3,000. Johnny Manziel was suspended for a half for doing the same thing and not having full confirmation of payments received. If Gurley had the same people defending him that Manziel had, he would not have been suspended four games. Michael Adams was not President of the University of Georgia anymore, why didn’t McGarity put up a fight?
Greg McGarity was tone deaf to the calls for change back in 2013 when members of the Georgia Football Team protested in a rather weak fashion in support of major NCAA reforms regarding compensation and scholarship protections.
There was an opportunity to affect major change in terms of how the NCAA operated and on these two occasions, the University of Georgia Athletic Association chose to not take the bold route, but rather to embrace the horrible status quo. Vince Dooley may have made his fair share of mistakes as Athletic Director, but he was not afraid to take on the NCAA when they were wrong.
Embarrassing Legislation in Response to NCAA Issues and College Football Performance
In the past two years, the Georgia State Legislature and Governor Nathan Deal have completely embarrassed the State of Georgia and the University of Georgia with legislation that could easily be described as “misplaced priorities”. The Georgia State Legislature has become so fed up with the Georgia Football Team not winning a National Championship that they are trying to legislate their way to giving the team an edge.
The laws passed would seem like a punchline about Southern culture from Jeff Foxworthy. “You might be a redneck if…”
To prevent another Todd Gurley sort of an incident from happening, passing a law (previously House Bill 3) by which enticing a student-athlete to break NCAA rules (giving them money) is a misdemeanor punishable by up to $5,000 and a year in prison. This law received bipartisan support and an overwhelming majority.
“I was disappointed when it happened. But I understand the young man comes from a very humble background. His mother didn’t have funds to properly repair the roof on the trailer she raised him in.” – Georgia Representative Barry Fleming (R-Harlem)
Instead of looking to expand access to compensation without requiring UGA to pay for it, lawmakers sought to punish those wishing to give student-athletes money to help support their children and parents. Student-athletes are severely limited in terms of employment opportunities, compensation from employment and entrepreneurial efforts unlike regular students. Regular students can receive scholarships and not be limited as far as compensation, activity and even their course of study. The argument that the student-athletes receive an education and all sorts of benefits that regular students do not receive is much like making the argument that Black Americans had it better under slavery because they were fed and sheltered as opposed to being free to achieve what they wished to do just like any other American.
The State of Georgia has a poverty rate of 18.3% (43rd best in the country) and severely divided economic development North and South of the Fall Line. Instead, Football is the priority to State Legislators. This is how a Deep South state continues to be the brunt of jokes on a national level. It’s hard to take seriously from the prospective of an outsider. This happened because Greg McGarity stood by and did not take an active stance.
The previous law was reactive, this next one is proactive, paranoid and worthy of mockery. It’s the infamous 90 day requirement to respond to a Freedom of Information Request Law put in place to help Georgia’s recruiting efforts. This sounds ridiculous and seems like a complete misuse of authority. In an era when self-described Conservative Republicans (ie. those that pay attention to Georgia Football the most) want greater transparency from Washington politicians and more accountability, they voted for and supported a bill that became a law that stifles these objectives.
“It just allows us to play on the same field as Alabama and everybody else.” – Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R – Powder Springs)
“The pure and only intention on this is … so people don’t have access to find out who our schools are recruiting.” – Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R – Powder Springs)
If it seems silly and misguided that’s because it is. If the intention was to prevent access as to who the schools were recruiting, then the law should have included mandatory Non-Disclosure Agreements signed by the High School students and their respective parents/guardians as a condition to receive an offer. High school students and transfer students will talk, which makes the intention behind the law both completely misguided and a massive waste of time that could have been spent trying to find ways to make the State of Georgia more economically competitive.
“Administratively, it helps us tremendously. We’ve received 95 FOI requests since Dec. 1. That goes through the University and it goes through (McGarity’s administrative assistant). She’s got to stop everything she’s doing in order to deal with it within three days. I like it. It gives us time to do our job as far as what we normally do as well as address all the issues of FOIA.” – Greg McGarity
Change and conviction are not hallmarks of Greg McGarity as an administrator. Efficiency does not appear to be a priority either.
The UGA Athletic Association operates on a $117 million budget and currently has more than $60 million in its reserve fund. McGarity was asked why the tax-exempt, non-profit corporation could not assign a full-time administrator to facilitate requests for such legally-sanctioned information.
“There are so many ideas that people have out there,” McGarity said. “I just know that right now, the way we operate, it’s taxing to a lot of people.”
As opposed to hiring someone to handle the tasks or improving/automating processes, going to Atlanta and letting Kirby Smart play the role of a lobbyist was the solution.
Greg McGarity, Nathan Deal, Kirby Smart and the Georgia Legislature embarrassed themselves, carved out new laws to reduce transparency and accountability, and wasted a lot of time and energy. This would have received far greater mockery on a national stage had the North Carolina Transgender Restroom Law and Baylor University’s rape scandals not happened.
Controversy over Mark Richt’s “firing”
There is a lot more to the Mark Richt exit than what was being let on by both parties at the most inappropriately staged press conference in UGA history. Mark Richt was being let go and came off incredibly sympathetic while sitting right by Greg McGarity who realized halfway through the press conference that he made a major mistake that he simply could not undo.
There is honest disagreement about whether Richt should have been fired, but it is unanimous that the way McGarity handled the firing was wrong from a Public Relations perspective. McGarity came off looking stiff and would not comment on almost any specifics, which begs the question, “Why go through this painful exhibition?” Richt clearly was not going to retire. McGarity could have just sent a brief statement acknowledging that Mark Richt was not going to be retained by the University of Georgia Athletic Association and simply thank Richt for his efforts. Instead, McGarity chose the emotional, dramatic route that put him and the University of Georgia Athletic Association in a horrible light. McGarity hid from the public for months and visibly enhanced security at the Butts-Mehre Building. The optics of the press conference doomed him.
This is unusual: UGA called in security to stand at entrances to Butts-Mehre building. Never seen that. pic.twitter.com/a2JEGtRoAI
— Seth Emerson (@SethEmersonAJC) November 29, 2015
Was Richt really fired or was it a mutual exit? Did Richt have a substantial conversation with the University of Miami in the wake of Al Golden’s firing? These and plenty more questions are still unanswered and the way Greg McGarity handled this situation made it taboo to ask the questions and logically examine the activities of both men during the final month of Richt’s tenure. Emotion won out over reason and McGarity alienated a bloc of Evangelical supporters and alumni of UGA.
Greg McGarity and Kirby Smart were going to create a G-Day like no one had ever seen and an environment that was a taste of the Fall. A sell-out crowd with all of the pomp and circumstance that comes with a Georgia Football game, but this game would be a bit different as there would be live entertainment to energize the crowd.
McGarity and the University of Georgia Athletic Association were going to have a “big name” musical act do a 15 minute set before the game. Speculated names for this musical act: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Zac Brown Band and Thomas Rhett. All of the acts contacted could not perform on G-Day due to scheduling conflicts. After all the hype, there was not going to be a musical act to perform at G-Day after all.
That is until rapper/actor/entrepreneur Christopher Bridges entered the fray, yes that’s right – Ludacris. Ludacris contacted the UGA Athletic Association and got it.
UGA athletic spokesman Claude Felton said the school had established a network within the music industry during the process and someone representing Ludacris contacted Georgia officials on Wednesday.
There were Georgia fans and alumni that were happy and others that were mad. The happy folks were glad that Ludacris was returning to do another performance at UGA, some of the unhappy folks decided to channel their inner David Duke.
Ludacris has performed at the University of Georgia before, in fact, he performed inside Sanford Stadium in 2013 alongside Jason Aldean. Ludacris also performed at the University of Georgia in 2010, he charged $68,000 for the concert that would last at least one hour. His riders were the same sort of riders he always asks for as well, check the previous link to 2010. More on his rider situation coming up.
It cost $65,000 to get Ludacris to do a clean 15 minute set. Ludacris being the consummate professional that he is knows his audiences and the material he is able to present. Considering Ludacris’ discography, this is all very possible and he is easily able to do the radio-edit version of his biggest hits. With this all in mind, why didn’t UGA contact Ludacris in the first place? This is where it gets really controversial because one has to consider the individuals that UGA Athletic Association were speculated to have contacted.
Was Ludacris not on the list because:
A) He’s a rapper. They wanted a country band or crooner.
B) They did not think he was capable of doing a clean set.
C) They stereotypically think Georgia Football fans think “rap is crap“. (This is an insulting stereotype.)
D) His skin color.
McGarity and his ilk put themselves into an uncomfortable corner where because they did not contact Ludacris’ representatives in the first place nor any other rappers after contacting many different musical acts, they had to make the “ransom” payment of $65,000 plus everything in the rider because doing otherwise could set up an ugly situation very similar to the University of Missouri – Columbia. Still, the question as to why Ludacris had to be the one that contacted UGA is not exactly comfortable. It is one thing to contact a wide array of well-known musical acts and not be able to come to terms whether it be money or content, but it is another thing to claim that all options have been exhausted while declaring that there would not be a musical act at G-Day and then an extremely successful local artist takes the initiative to contact UGA. That’s a problem.
It gets worse in the aftermath. Ludacris’ rider is well established and UGA under Michael Adams’ leadership fulfilled it, it was not newsworthy outside of an article in The Red & Black. However, it being the offseason, the media blows up the idea of the rider objecting to the idea of condoms and liquor being given to Ludacris. All of this controversy is taking place while UGA students receive FREE condoms from the University of Georgia Health Center.
Riders are very common in performer contracts. David Lee Roth is known for his infamous rider.
How Kirby Smart and Greg McGarity handled the matter of addressing Ludacris’ rider could best be described as pandering. Kirby Smart was calling for unity and Greg McGarity was hoping that the segment of the fan and alumni base that was most angered by the Mark Richt exit would eventually come around. Was the response by Smart actually genuine?
“I wasn’t privy to the contract & obviously we need to do a better job of handling situations like that” – Kirby Smart
Statements like the one above placate a segment of the audience that feels this way:
Was this a manufactured controversy after being charged a rate that was four times the amount paid in 2010? Keep in mind, $68,000 plus rider provisions for a one hour or greater performance in 2010 and in 2016, $65,000 plus rider provisions for a fifteen minute set. Big difference here as far as the rate is concerned, not the total amount paid.
Would Luke Bryan have his rider examined? How about Ryan Seacrest? Most commencement speakers are compensated for their time, he certainly had a rider. Why isn’t Seacrest’s rider examined?
When the controversy concerning the whole matter of liquor and condoms was thought to have gone away, Greg McGarity gave an apology a few days ago concerning the rider to the Athletics Board.
“I do want to take this opportunity to apologize to our board for mistakes we made with certain aspects of the details of an entertainment agreement… Few things in my professional life have bothered me more than this situation. There are no reruns in life so we need to turn the page, learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to make sure errors of this nature do not reoccur.” – Greg McGarity
McGarity made the University of Georgia look like hypocrites on the matter of safe sex and health issues and he proved himself to be terrible at Public Relations by re-opening this issue. McGarity also alienated multiple constituency groups.
McGarity Needs to Be Fired Now
The SEC Network is making every member of the Southeastern Conference flush with revenues. Could the University of Georgia Athletic Associate drive in more revenue? Absolutely. It is easy to just look at the numbers and applaud, but then again everyone else is doing it or doing it better on the revenue side. Coming in 8th in the conference in revenue is rather par for the course in the 2014-15 School Year, but the 20.29% profit margin is a testament to fiscal discipline. There are no shareholders in University of Georgia Athletics and certainly no dividend distributions.
The impact financially of ending the McGarity era at the University of Georgia is minimal as past Athletic Directors have experienced no issues turning a profit. Patrons want championships, the alumni want championships and furthering prestige beyond athletics. The championships have lessened and embarrassments have risen.
McGarity has unfortunately proven himself to be the following:
Continuing with McGarity at the helm for another year opens risks to further tone deafness. 2016 is The Year of the Angry Populace in the United States. Nobody’s happy with the economy, societal shifts, politicians and media. Why continue to keep someone in such an important post that has embodied the negatives of the current climate?