LAKE OCONEE, Ga. —— Reports by University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead, J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks, and an update on current and future facilities projects highlighted the first day of the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors annual spring meeting.
In his report, Brooks touched on a wide range of topics and led with his most prominent observations since taking over the athletic directorship in January.
• He thanked the loyalty and generosity of the Georgia fans, especially through the past 15 months of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
• He praised the performances of the UGA student-athletes amid the many challenges presented by the pandemic.
• He stressed the importance of retaining coaches, specifically women’s basketball coach Joni Taylor, equestrian coach Meghan Boenig and baseball coach Scott Stricklin, all of whom signed contract extensions in the past two months.
• Brooks also announced initiatives aimed at improving the fan experience at all Georgia athletic venues. Prices of five core concession items — bottled water, bottled soda, candy, hot dogs and popcorn — will be reduced by nearly 50 percent. The price reductions came about thanks to savings created by the mobile ticketing system implemented this year, which will be continued in 2022.
Additional highlights of Brooks’ report:
• He praised Georgia teams for their success in competition, particularly the championships won by Equestrian and women’s tennis, and the performances this spring by the golf teams, both tennis squads, as well as the baseball and softball teams. In all, 13 of Georgia’s 21 teams are currently ranked in the Top 15 in their respective sports.
• He also commended all student-athletes for their participation in community service throughout the 2020-21 year. Highlighted by Dawgs for Pups program started last year, many UGA teams and individuals have been recognized for their outstanding contributions.
UGA is exploring enhancements at Sanford Stadium that include additional fan amenities and improvement of pedestrian traffic on the South 100 Level concourse, as well as the relocation of the press box to the southwest corner of the stadium. In its place, UGA would be able to add additional premium seating.
Associate AD Matt Brachowski presented an update on the Butts-Mehre expansion and renovation project. Phase One of the $80 million project was completed in late April, with the UGA football and Sports Medicine programs currently moving in.
Additional aspects of the Butts-Mehre project include the following:
• Plans to transform the former football locker and equipment rooms in the Butts-Mehre building for use by the UGA Track & Field program. This study also includes the re-use of the former football athletic training room into an athletic training space for UGA’s Olympic sports.
• The process to replace the four-court indoor building at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex will begin in June, according to Brachowski. UGA will solicit proposals for the design of a new, six-court building to be constructed on the site of the existing indoor courts.
Faculty Athletics Representative David Shipley gave a report of the Athletic Association’s most recent academic news. Among the items included:
• 89 student-athletes graduated earlier this month.
• UGA had 98 student-athletes on the most recent SEC Honor Roll, tops among the 14 schools in the conference.
• The overall Spring Semester grade point average for all student-athletes was a 3.16. Five men's teams were at or above 3.00, and all but one of the UGA women's teams was at or above that mark.
• The highest female sport team GPA for spring was the SEC Champion women’s tennis squad with a 3.57 average. Highest among the men's teams was cross country with a 3.61.
• Former UGA swimmer Nic Fink, who was selected for an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 2015, will be pursuing an advanced degree in engineering.
• Senior distance runner Jessica Drop, was recently announced as the 2021 Brad Davis Southeastern Conference Community Service Female Leader of the Year and will receive a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship.
Day two of the annual meeting on Friday will include a student-athlete wellness report, reports from the Board’s student representatives, treasurer's report, and a presentation of the fiscal year 2022 budget.
Comments from J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks:
Regarding reduction in concession prices: ‘’My goal — and this isn’t just about families; it’s about anyone — I’ve been in enough venues and watched families walk up to the concession stand. I don’t want that family of four to pay $40 or more to feed their family. That’s not the experience I want to create. If I’m talking about packing volleyball, softball, soccer, non-ticketed events, or even our ticketed events, I want to create a good experience. I’ve talked about managing people over profits. It’s not always about profits. Our donors do a phenomenal job of buying tickets and supporting us in many ways. It just felt like this was an area where we need to give back, do more, and make this more of a family atmosphere, or for anyone. Trust me, I’ve seen enough families and I know what it’s like to feed three boys at an athletic event. It’s important to me.’’
Regarding implementation of Name, Image and Likeness legislation on July 1: ‘’We’re hoping for federal legislation, so like President Morehead said, every state is playing by the same rules. Right now, we’ve partnered with a company called Altius, who is going to help us with the education process. The first step in this process is education. We’ve got to get 500 student-athletes understanding what we’re talking about because we may have discussed a lot, but they may not have as detailed an understanding. So right now, the big focus is education and getting ready for July 1.’’