Georgia athletic officials were upbeat on Tuesday about donations received tied to football tickets even after the program’s first losing season in 14 years.
Figures aren’t yet finalized, but as of midday Tuesday donors to the William C. Hartman Jr. Fund had contributed $22.4 million, down from $22.7 million last year, according to senior athletic administrator Dave Muia, who works in fundraising and alumni relations.
“I feel really good about it,” Muia said.
Athletic director Greg McGarity said the numbers indicate Georgia will be close to last year’s total in contributions, which is “encouraging” after a 6-7 season.
The number of donors making contributions decreased to 13,705 from 14,002 last year.
“There was not an outcry of our supporters that were jumping ship,” McGarity said. “You’re certainly going to have a small percentage that say that we just don’t care to follow the team any further, we’re frustrated, blah, blah, blah. You’re going to have that with our economy as it is.
“You’d have some of that even if you were 12-0. … At the same time, it shows a resiliency with our boosters, our fans, our supporters that did not jump ship and see things in a positive way and signs of us getting back on track.”
The 2011 deadline was Feb. 15, but the school was still soliciting contributions for its football season ticket priority on its athletic website two days later.
Muia said an “e-mail blast” was sent out on Monday night to those who gave last year but not this year, and there will be a follow-up by regular mail.
“You’re basically backtracking with people to call that didn’t renew and double-checking to make sure they don’t need a small extension or things of that nature,” McGarity said. “You basically still have mail that trickles in after the deadline for people that have missed for whatever reason.”
Donations last year after a disappointing 8-5 season were down from $23.3 million the year before and a record $26.1 million in 2008 after a No. 2 national ranking.
Georgia fans had to decide this year whether to contribute again after a season that ended with a Liberty Bowl loss.
McGarity said scheduling a high-profile opener against Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic may have helped if someone was on the fence.
“I think people are still proud to be identified with this program,” Muia said. “It comes through when they have to shell out this money. They also know we need it for all the sports. These scholarships are for all of our student-athletes.”
Georgia uses priority points to determine season tickets, away game tickets and single home game tickets.
Georgia has set a record for new donors with 619 and in total dollars contributed from new donors with $1,077,000, Muia said.