Guest commentary: Dooley being done wrong

The best thing that can be said about University of Georgia President Michael Adams' choice not to give Vince Dooley a contract extension as the school's athletics director is Adams mishandled the situation. The worst is it is one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in the history of the University of Georgia.

The best thing that can be said about University of Georgia President Michael Adams choice not to give Vince Dooley a contract extension as the school's athletics director is Adams mishandled the situation. The worst is it is one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in the history of the University of Georgia.

Adams began trying to rush Dooley's exit during contentious contract negotiations in 2001; rejecting Dooley's initial request to stay in the job four more years and offering two years instead, then upping the offer to two-and-a-half years before ultimately agreeing on a compromise of three years. This sets Dooley's retirement date for June 30, 2004. In March, Dooley asked Adams for an additional four years. After his request went unanswered for weeks, Dooley requested a meeting with Adams and offered to reduce the contract extension request to just two years. It was at this meeting that Adams informed Dooley his contract wouldn't be extended for four or even two years, and that he already had appointed a search committee to find his replacement as athletics director. Adams condescendingly offered Dooley an additional year's employment as a senior consultant at his existing salary.

Dooley has given 40 years-over half his life-to the University of Georgia. He was Georgia's head football coach from 1964-88 and has been its athletics director since 1979. During his tenure, Dooley became the university's top goodwill ambassador as well as one of collegiate sports greatest legends. He still has the good health, energy and enthusiasm for his job, to continue as athletics director. Those of us who know Dooley realize that he would never remain or even ask to remain in the position if it would not be in the best interest of the University of Georgia. Unquestionably, he should be allowed to retire on his own terms.

Adams has interfered in athletics since he became the University of Georgia's president in 1997. College presidents do not have the expertise to run athletic programs and should leave their operations to those who know how--the athletics directors, coaches and their support staffs. After all, that's their jobs. And directing a major college athletic program is something Dooley does very well.

He has built one of collegiate sports most solvent, as well as one of its most successful, programs at Georgia. Under his leadership, Bulldog teams have won nineteen national titles, including an unprecedented four during the 1998-99 school year, as well as dozens of Southeastern Conference titles and numerous individual championships. Dooley has directed more than $100 million in construction and improvements of Georgia's athletics facilities with more on the drawing board. Even Adams acknowledges that, under Dooley's direction, UGA athletics have undergone significant progress and currently "the athletics program is strong and the future is bright."

Dooley has repeatedly had to clean up behind Adams when the latter has made irresponsible decisions and ill-advised statements regarding UGA athletics. Let's not forget that Dooley hired Mark Richt as head football coach. Adams hired Jim Harrick as head basketball coach (against Dooley's wishes) and waved the State of Georgia's nepotism policy to hire Harrick's son, Jim, Jr. as an assistant basketball coach. Of course, Adams seems to have little or no regard for the state's nepotism policy, as his wife is on the university's payroll. Adams was also directly involved in the admission of basketball player Tony Cole into UGA (again against Dooley's wishes). Most Bulldogs knows how each has turned out. Also, in what should have resulted in his dismissal, Adams gave former Bulldogs head football coach Jim Donnan a $255,250 pay increase in 1998 without notifying Dooley or the other members of the UGA Athletic Board, which Adams chairs. Neither Dooley nor the Athletics Board members found out about Adams secret deal with Donnan until three years later-almost a year after Adams fired Donnan (once again against Dooley's advice). And there have been other situations involving athletics that Adams has caused great embarrassment to the University of Georgia.

If anyone deserves not to have his contract renewed, it is Adams, not Dooley. Adams cannot seem to quit tripping over his immeasurably colossal ego. Now he's taken it to greater heights. He has alienated UGA faculty members, students, alumni and other school supporters repeatedly for seemingly no good reasons. In fact, Adams has created wounds at UGA that will take years to heal. The contract extension denial is not about whether Dooley is doing his job well. Adams has yet to give a reason why Dooley should not be allowed to remain as athletics director. Maybe it's because Adams does not have a reason. In public statements about the issue, Adams commends the athletics department's achievements under Dooley's direction, but at the same time says it needs new leadership. To justify pushing Dooley toward an involuntary exit, Adams should provide evidence that Dooley is either physically unable to be athletics director or that the athletics department would be better off with a different person at its helm. Adams has done neither.

The University of Georgia will have as much trouble replacing Dooley as athletics director as it did replacing him as its head football coach. While in that position, he led Georgia to two national championships (1968 and '80), six Southeastern Conference crowns, twenty bowl appearances and a 201-77-10 record that is one of the best in college football history. Adams has said he hopes to name a new athletics director by the end of 2003. He knows the sooner the search committee interviews candidates and recommends to him a new athletic director, the less time Dooley's supporters will have to apply enough pressure through proper channels to obtain a contract extension.

Numerous UGA alumni and other University of Georgia supporters have vowed to stop donating money to the university and many from Georgia promise to express their disgust with the state's elected officials who fail to support Dooley's contract extension at the ballot box. In protest of Adams' decision not to extend the contract, Herschel Walker, the Bulldogs all-time most famous athlete, has resigned from the Archway to Excellence steering committee, which is hoping to raise $500 million for UGA. One UGA booster has even reportedly rescinded his $6 million pledge to the school in protest.

Jack Rooker, chairman of the UGA Foundation, who supports Adams' asinine decision not to extend Dooley's contract gave the following, and equally asinine quote, to the Athens Banner-Herald: "I tell people, 'Disagree with the decision if you want to, but don't hurt your institution. I'm convinced the program at Georgia is going to stay strong." Rooker just does not get it. It's not the people who support Dooley who are hurting the school. It's Adams who is hurting it.

Firing (and that's what not renewing a contract is) a man the stature of Vince Dooley is like taking a blowtorch to the Stature of Liberty, making it into pots and pans and then selling them at the local rummage sale. If Dooley is not allowed a contract extension and the right to retire when he wants, Adams and others who support him will be responsible for setting back athletics and education many years at the University of Georgia.

Supporters of Dooley's contract extension should contact those in authority and insist it be given. Contact information for State of Georgia, University of Georgia System and UGA officials is listed below. Dooley's supporters in the State of Georgia should also notify their State Representatives in the Senate and House to express their viewpoints. Do not let this matter go away until the contract extension is granted and Adams is no longer President of the University of Georgia.

* This column's editor may be contacted by U.S. Mail: Tim Gardner, 670 Old Hanging Rock Road, Newland, NC 28657; by phone (828) 766-8051: or by email:

-The opinions of the author do not necessarily reflect the views of this site or its owners. If you have a dissenting opinion, please forward your prepared statement to * Board of Regents Office-

Tom Meredith, Chairman, University System of Georgia, 270 Washington Street, SW, Atlanta, Georgia 30334 Telephone: 404-656-6174

* Members of the Board of Regents And Their Business or Home Address:

Joe Frank Harris, Chairman, Board of Regents, 712 West Avenue, Cartersville, GA 30120

Hugh Carter, Darby Printing, 6215 Purdue Drive, Atlanta, GA 30336

Connie Cater, Cater Casket, 1920 Broadway, Macon, GA 31206

William Cleveland, 3620 Martin Luther King Drive, Atlanta, GA 30331

Michael Coles, 2450 Kirk Lane, Kennesaw, GA 30152

Hilton Howell, Jr., Atlantic American Corp., 4370 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, GA 30319

Jule Hunt, JL Services, PO Box 1005, Tifton, GA 31793

Mansfield Jennings, Jr., ComSouth, 250 Broad Street, Hawkinsville, GA 31036

Donald Leebern, Jr., Georgia Crown Distributing Co., PO Box 43065, Atlanta, GA 30378

Allene Magill, Dalton Public Schools, 100 S. Hamilton Street, Dalton, GA 30720

Elridge McMillan, Atlanta Metropolitan College, 1630 Metropolitan Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30310

Martin NeSmith, NeSmith Chevrolet, PO Box 828, Claxton, GA 30417

Patrick Pittard, 985 Mathis Dan Road, Lakemont, GA 30522

Wanda Rodwell, Delta Airlines, 1020 Delta Blvd., Atlanta, GA 30354

Timothy Shelnut, Four Seasons Securities, PO Box 211688, Atlanta, GA 30354

Glenn White, First Bank of the South, 2230 Riverside Parkway, Lawrenceville, GA 30043

Joel Wooten, Jr., Butler Wooten LLP, PO Box 2766, Columbus, GA 31902

* Governor of Georgia-

Sonny Perdue, Governor, State of Georgia, 203 State Capitol, Atlanta, Georgia 30334 Telephone: 404-656-1776

* Athletic Association Board of Directors-

Athletic Board, University of Georgia, PO Box 1472, Athens, GA 30603-1472 Telephone: 706-542-9036

* UGA Foundation (concerning donations to the UGA Fund)-

Jack Rooker, Chairman, University of Georgia Foundation, 824 South Milledge Avenue, Athens, GA 30602 Telephone: 888-268-5442

* Office of The UGA President-

Dr. Michael Adams, President, University of Georgia, UGA Administration Building, Athens, GA 30602-1661 Telephone: 706-542-1214 Email: or

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