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Blog: UGA Athletic Board update: Budget, football scheduling, facility upgrades

ST. SIMONS ISLAND–There weren’t any big fireworks in the final Georgia Athletic Association board meeting for outgoing UGA president Michael Adams.

The board approved a fiscal year 2014 budget of $93.2 million and $2.18 million for facility improvements, including to Sanford Stadium.

“This has really been a labor of love to see the growth in the program, to see the growth in the quality of the teams, the student-athletes,” Adams said afterwards. “Don’t get me wrong we had a great program long before I got here.”

The three-day meeting at the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort wraps up Friday morning, but most of the business took place Thursday.

The Athletic Board was briefed on the coming SEC Network and talk about future football scheduling.

“The financial benefit five years from now will be significant,” Adams said.

Afterwards, Adams said he hasn’t taken a position on a possible nine-game SEC schedule that is expected to be at least discussed next week in league meetings in Destin.

“I think that’s one that cuts both ways,” he said. “On one hand you give the fans a better experience in the regular season, but you may not give them as good an experience in bowl game time if we beat each other up more in the SEC during the year. I’m going to listen to the discussion in Destin. I’m probably going to be guided by the AD and what the next crowd wants to do since I’m not going to have to live it.”

Provost Jere Morehead, who will become president July 1, said the key question is the competitiveness for SEC teams under the new four-team playoff in 2014.

“I think we’ll be looking for a recommendation from the athletic directors and the SEC commissioner upon those issues,” Morehead said.

Georgia AD Greg McGarity said he wants to hear more about details that will go into the strength of schedule in the four-team playoff and if a nine-game schedule would hurt or help. McGarity expects the 2014 schedule to come out next week in Destin.

It’s an eight-game schedule with the same 6-1-1 format used this past season.

Georgia coach Mark Richt has been against a nine-game schedule in the past because the annual nonconference game against Georgia Tech makes for at least 10 games he considered “pretty stout.”

“Mark and I haven’t talked about it much because we haven’t needed to discuss it right now because it’s not even been discussed among the ADs,” McGarity said. “I think there will be a lot of discussion on that that may start in Destin.”

Could there be a softening of position on Georgia’s side about the game against Auburn as a permanent rival if those are done away with if the 6-1-1 model is scrapped?

“I’m firm that Georgia-Georgia Tech needs to contend every year,” Adams said. “I prefer that the Auburn game continues, but I think that’s a decision for the next administration not me.”

Said McGarity: “It’s going to all come down to a vote. While we’re for it and I know Auburn’s for it, other schools I’m not really sure where they stand. …Will the Auburn-Georgia game always be every year? It all depends on votes and what the majority votes carry in the conference.”

McGarity said he would be for keeping the Georgia Tech game even if the league went to nine games.

Back to the facility improvements.

They included $1.25 million for Sanford Stadium for new flooring, ceiling fans, televisions and graphics, to the Champions Club, where the highest paying contributors sit on the north side club level.  The board approved adding two LED panels to provide closed captionings.

Another $300,000 will go to a design study for football practice field improvements that will result in replacing the two FieldTurf fields and the block wall near the field following the 2013 season.

“It’s a hazard on young men on down and out runs,” McGarity said.

The Stegeman Coliseum athletic training room will be upgraded and courts at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex will be resurfaced.

Other quick hitters:

–McGarity said a neutral site game with Florida State in 2016 in Atlanta “is a long, long shot.”

The big reason, he said, is Georgia wants seven home games.

“While that game may make you whole from a budget standpoint. …we’re very sensitive to the community,” McGarity said. “Is that the best thing for our community? There’s no question it is not. I’ve kept an open mind.”

McGarity said he hasn’t discussed the game, floated by Gary Stokan of the Chick-fil-A kickoff game, with Richt.

–Athletic reserves will be close to $70 million. Georgia projects about $933,480 in revenue added this fiscal year.

–Georgia is ushering in a “Stanford model” to endow coaching positions. A $1 million gift from a yet unnamed donor has already been made to endow the AD position.

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