dean@dawgpost.com"> dean@dawgpost.com">

Time for Board of Regents to act against Adams

Guest Columnist Tim Gardner says that the Board of Regents should act now against University of Georgia President Michael Adams and for Athletics Director Vince Dooley. If you have a dissenting opinion, please forward your prepared statement to <a href="mailto:dean@dawgpost.com">dean@dawgpost.com</a>

The debate about University of Georgia president Michael Adams' decision not to extend Vince Dooley's contract as the school's athletics director past June 30, 2004 is almost two months old. It no longer only centers on allowing Dooley to exit his post on his own terms, but also how to rid the university of Adams. The anti-Adams people have a good case in calling for his firing as the school's president. And their case for Adams' ouster seems to get stronger each passing day, as does their unified effort. In fact, Adams has done much to help their cause. Questions about his financial mismanagement and abuses of power abound, and the University of Georgia's reputation seems at stake if he is allowed to remain president.

Adams must believe he has sold the University of Georgia System Board of Regents and the UGA Foundation Board of Trustees on what an outstanding university Georgia has become under his leadership. However, the University was a great school academically and athletically before he became president and will remain so long after he is no longer president.

College and university rankings are arbitrary and they tend to rise and fall yearly. The high standings of Georgia's freshman classes are due more to other factors than Adams being president the past six years. Standard Aptitude Test (SAT) scores being re-centered several years ago resulted in a score of 1000 at that time becoming 1,100 today. Additionally, the Hope Scholarship ensures that a vast majority of the best students in the State of Georgia will attend an in-state school, on a full-ride, rather than go out of state as they have done in the past. There are numerous other examples that Adams has received credit for the University's academic success that he does not deserve. In essence, giving Adams credit for the great academic happenings at Georgia would be like crediting Saddam Hussein for ending the Persian Gulf Conflict.

Recently, the board of trustees of the UGA Foundation, the private entity that handles donations to the university, had a four-hour meeting in which trustees stopped short of casting a "vote of no confidence" in Adams, but instead issued a vague statement about a "process" to consider "issues" involving him. Adams' use of foundation funds, including a review of charges to his foundation-issued credit card, is one of the issues the board of trustees is examining, according to information obtained by the Athens, GA Daily News and Banner-Herald through an Open Records Law request.

Some Foundation Board members are inquiring about Adams chartering an airplane to attend the 2001 inauguration of President George W. Bush and a $255,250 severance payment to fired UGA football coach Jim Donnan. Adams upset some members of the university's athletics board when he agreed in 1998 to pay Donnan an additional $255,250 in severance pay if Donnan were fired before the end of his contract. Neither Dooley or the athletics board found out about the agreement until Adams fired Donnan after the fall 2000 football season--before Donnan's contract expired. Other foundation board concerns center around Adams' lavish spending practices such as a $2.5 million investment to have a former library restored and furnished to accommodate UGA administration offices and the hiring of his wife, Mary, as a development officer, at an annual UGA Foundation-funded $30,000 salary. Foundation board members also have questioned Adams' land purchases for overseas study programs. In 1999, Adams used foundation money to buy a $2 million Victorian home in Oxford, England, for students to use while studying there. Last year, he spent foundation money to acquire a research center in Costa Rica for students to study ecosystems not available at other university study sites. The university leases the site from the foundation for $85,000 a year, and uses fees collected from students who study abroad to cover the costs.

Adams calls the probe into his use of private UGA Foundation funds "an attack on my personal integrity." Poor baby. What does he expect? Adams even had the gall to claim that his severance payment to Donnan was "not a secret deal at all, it was sort of a flip decision on a final element in a contract." Come on, Mikey, you know that's a lie. If it was not a secret deal, why didn't Adams notify Dooley and the other members of the UGA Athletic Board before Donnan had to be paid?

And Adams has yet to give a legitimate reason why Dooley should not be granted a contract extension. Dooley has built one of collegiate sports most solvent, as well as one of its most successful, programs at Georgia. Even Adams has admitted both to be true. And what about the search committee Adams designated to recommend a successor to Dooley? Most of those Adams has placed on the committee have little or no athletic background. Nevertheless, they will be the group to recommend a new athletics director to Adams to replace Dooley, whom many feel is America's finest collegiate athletics director. How ludicrous. Adams showed his ignorance even further by not asking Dooley to provide his athletic administrative expertise by serving on the search committee. If a search committee has ever been a committee of one (Adams), this is it. Guaranteed, if Adams gets his way and Dooley is not granted a contract extension, he will hire a puppet on a string. Such a situation may be good to feed Adams' massive ego, but it's not the best way to operate a major college sports program.

Once Adams is out as president, he surely has a promising career in theatrics. His recent performance on the ESPN program, "Outside the Lines," was shameful. Adams tried to gain support for his decision not to extend Dooley's contract by indicating that siding with Dooley over him would mean that athletics is more important than academics at the university. That rationale is not only poor logic, it's a cop-out. And Adams knows it.

Another dog that won't hunt is the fact that Dooley agreed to retire when his current contract expires in 2004 and he should honor that agreement. Yes, he and Adams had such an agreement, but Dooley didn't know the Bulldogs' basketball program would get in NCAA trouble under former head coach Jim Harrick, Sr., either. Adams insisted in 1999 that Georgia hire Harrick, Sr. with whom Adams had worked at Pepperdine University, even though Harrick was not on Dooley's list of candidates. Harrick resigned under fire earlier this year after the school found evidence of academic fraud in the basketball program and the NCAA launched an investigation of possible rules violations. Harrick's son, Jim Jr., who Adams circumvented the State University System of Georgia's nepotism's policy, to hire as an assistant coach, was fired for his alleged involvement in the academic improprieties and possible rules violations. Now Dooley is having to pull Georgia out of that mess which Adams created by hiring the Harricks. And that process likely will take longer than the one year Dooley has left on his current contract.

Former Georgia Governor and University of Georgia System Board of Regents chairman Joe Frank Harris announced that Adams had the Board's unanimous support in not extending Dooley's contract, or at least that Adams had a legal right not to do so. Harris and the Board of Regents should realize that what is legally right is not always what is right. This certainly is such a situation.

The Board of Regents member who should be the most ashamed for his support of Adams not extending Dooley's contract is Donald Leebern, Sr. Leebern is one of the University's most generous financial contributors and ironically, used to be one of Dooley's strongest supporters. Leebern is married, but according to a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution column, has had an ongoing affair with UGA's women's gymnastics coach, Suzanne Yoculan, which has to cause much embarrassment to the University of Georgia and the Board of Regents.

There has been speculation that a push was underway to make Yoculan the Bulldogs athletics director, perhaps quickly to help thwart Dooley's supporters efforts to apply the needed pressure to help get him a contract extension. Thankfully, that option fizzled. Yoculan was recently quoted that she was not interested, nor qualified, to be athletics director. Indeed, she is not qualified to be an athletics director at a major college. A few women's gymnastics national championships does not qualify anyone for such a position. Neither does having a reported affair with a married man who serves on a University System Board of Regents.

It seems the Board of Regents' priorities are out of order. If other male employees or representatives of the University of Georgia System were married to one woman while having a reported affair with another, or if any of its female employees were having an affair with one of their superior's who is married, they likely would be fired. And yet, Leebern and Yoculan remain a member of the Board of Regents and a UGA coach, respectively, while Dooley, whose class and ethics are above reproach, is being unceremoniously booted. Simply put, it's senseless.

Another individual who should be ashamed--this one for his lack of involvement in the matter-is Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, a former UGA football player for Dooley. Perdue needs to publicly reveal his support for Adams or Dooley instead of taking the cowardly way out by not taking a stand. If there's one group of individuals America could do without, it's politicians who straddle the fence without taking a stance on issues. Perdue has the power to influence the Board of Regents to dismiss Adams and extend Dooley's contract. And Perdue has to know that Adams should be fired and that his 'ole coach deserves to retire from UGA on his own terms. Perdue could take a lesson from Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who proved he has guts to stand up for what is right about a similar situation. Huckabee was instrumental in the legendary Frank Broyles, soon to be 79 years old, receiving a new five-year contract, renewable yearly, to remain as the athletics director at the University of Arkansas. In addition to is athletics duties, Broyles is also chairman of the school's Campaign for the 21st Century, a seven-year effort designed to raise $900 million for academic excellence.

How unwise it is for Adams to force Dooley, a popular fixture at UGA for 40 years, to retire when Dooley's expertise and leadership is needed more than ever at a critical time in the school's history. UGA is in the second year of a $500 million capital campaign, its largest-ever such under-taking. Don't be surprised if Arkansas raises $900 million far quicker than Georgia raises $500 million if Adams remains as UGA president and Dooley's contract is not extended. Like Broyles, Dooley is also a legend, and the national clout he gives UGA can not be replaced.

Captain Chris Carter, the Army commander and UGA graduate who led troops into Baghdad and flew the UGA flag at a palace of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, will lead the procession on July 15 that will be presenting the www.axe-adams.com petition (also designed to extend Dooley's contract) to the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents at their offices in Atlanta, just hours before the annual Greater Atlanta Bulldog Club meeting. ESPN, USA Today and other national and Georgia media outlets will be covering the petition presentation.

Adams has failed miserably as UGA president, while Dooley has directed the Bulldogs' athletics program to its greatest era of achievement. The sooner Adams is replaced and Dooley's contract extended, the better. The Board of Regents needs to act soon. Their true colors will be shown...whether they correct a wrong or turn their backs on it.

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 dean@dawgpost.com

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: timgadawgs@yahoo.com


Dawg Post Top Stories