Why McGarity Deserved His Extension

ATHENS – Perhaps overshadowed last week by all of the talk about Mark Richt, Greg McGarity also received a raise and contract extension.

McGarity's raise was for $40,000 – making him earn $500,000 a year starting July 1, 2012. He is due a $50,000 raise next July as well. His contract was extended by two years.

But why?

Good question.

After all, Georgia doesn't seem much better off than it was two years ago when McGarity took over. On the surface it seems like McGarity has just been steering the ship – in other words, not making any big moves.

And what about the Athletic Association Board – weren't they the ones who gave Damon Evans a five-year contract just before his implosion? Didn't president Michael Adams say, "There's not been a whiff of impropriety during" Evans' tenure just before he arrested for a DUI? Isn't this the same Board that seemed OK with Evans driving the on-field performance of athletic department downward – going from fifth nationally to 20th in all-sports standings in a matter of only a five years?

Yes, it's the same bunch. And while they were wrong back then (and they may not know why now) they are correct in giving McGarity the raise and extension this time around.

Here's why:

McGarity has cleaned up a lot of the mess he inherited from Evans' hiring decisions in Olympic sports. He let volleyball coach Joel McCartney go in 2010. McGarity didn't renew the contract of women's golf coach Kelley Hester. McGarity accepted the resignation of gymnastics coach Jay Clark.

He's been decisive, too, in supporting coaches he's decided will continue to lead their programs at Georgia.

Baseball coach David Perno got McGarity's support recently telling reporters that Perno's return is "not even an issue." The Bulldogs have failed to reach the NCAAs for the second time in three years. McGarity gave a similar sort of remark supporting Mark Richt in the fall of 2010. Time will tell if Perno has the same sort of turnaround Richt experienced.

And while Olympic sports like baseball, gymnastics and golf are important, athletic directors are judged on how men's basketball and football perform. On the basketball side of things, McGarity didn't over do it when he gave Mark Fox a contract extension last year, rewarding him for a solid 2010-11, while also not overextending Fox for getting to the first round of the NCAAs. The slight raise and extension was appropriate and didn't go overboard. Fox enters a critical 2012-13 season, which makes McGarity's decision-process in the spring of 2011 more clear. Making an inappropriate contract extension for Fox would be troublesome if things don't go the right way this winter.

"I think at the end of the day, you're just trying to treat people the right way," McGarity said at the time of the Fox contract.

But McGarity's touch has been significant in football, which is all the more reason he deserves the extension and raise.

Consider that McGarity was in full support of Mark Richt and his program during the 2010 season, saying, "I fully expect Mark Richt to be with us for awhile." But he was critical after the Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida. In other words he spoke when he needed to and did so with clarity and authority – there was no confusion. Confusion leads to speculation, and that leads to instability.

McGarity helped usher in a nutrition program and a total overhaul of the strength and conditioning program – both had to help the Bulldogs win the SEC East in 2011. McGarity ditched the uncalled-for, Evans-created, home-and-away series with Louisville in favor of playing Boise State, and earning $1.7 million, in the Georgia Dome (remember that if things would have stayed the same Georgia would be visiting Louisville near the start the 2012 season – because playing a road game at a Big East school at the start of the season makes a ton of sense).

McGarity stood firm during the Richt-to-Texas A&M silliness. Remember the Houston Chronicle reporting that an "insider said should the Aggies hire Richt, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart likely would then head home to Georgia."

The silly season of December is amazing.

Still, Richt's cell phone records confirmed he didn't visit Texas the week many were speculating that not only had he'd visited, but that he was about to take the job. When asked about where the rumors came from regarding Richt going to A&M, McGarity said he wasn't sure. "I have no idea. I don't even respond to it because there is nothing there," he said sternly.

He was vocal in the media about his disappointment in what he saw as no-calls by officials at the end of the Georgia-Auburn game in 2010. But he was adamant in May that the Tigers and Bulldogs be able to continue their rivalry in the coming years even with SEC expansion.

Administratively, McGarity has made the correct call nearly all of the time, which leads to preferred outcomes. McGarity can't make players make plays, or coaches make the correct call. All he can do is remove any excuse – and he's done a good job of doing that.

And then there is the new contract Mark Richt just signed. It is worlds away different than the one he signed in 2008, and it is a glaring reason why McGarity knows what he's doing.

The new contract does a slew of things, but only a couple should to be highlighted:

1. The contract shifts the burden to Richt winning championships more than anything else. It rewards winning – that's a big deal.

2. The buyout is reasonable now, and it decreases over time. When the national media was intent on making a story about how Richt was on the way out in 2010 there was one major factor – the reportedly almost $7 million buyout included in the contract Evans, Adams and Co. agreed to after the 2007 season. Georgia may be hemorrhaging money, but that number was the largest buyout number in the SEC at the time, and was terrible negotiating on the school's part.

In the end McGarity has earned the extension and raise because he's been a positive, calming force in one of the most turbulent times. While his legacy is still yet to be determined, he's gotten off to a good start in Athens in his multi-faceted job.

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