Controversy continues due to Adams

Almost every University of Georgia supporter knows current school president Michael Adams began trying to rush athletics director Vince Dooley's exit during contentious contract negotiations in 2001.

Adams rejected Dooley's initial request to stay in the job four more years, 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 2003, Dooley asked Adams for an additional four years. After his request went unanswered for weeks, Dooley offered to reduce the contract extension request to just two years. Adams then 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.

Regardless of what some, particularly Adams, would like people to believe, the controversy between him and Dooley continues. It has also taken on new twists. The four latest include: (1) Athletic fundraising increasing over the last year under Dooley's leadership, while other donations to the university, for which Adams is responsible, dropped; (2) The UGA Foundation's Board of Trustees authorizing an independent audit of Adams' leadership record and expenditures; (3) A job description Dooley's successor has been announced; and (4) Adams' popularity continues to wane.

Below are yours truly's thoughts about these topics.

-Donations-

Adams has tooted his own horn about the supposedly great increases in financial contributions to the school during his reign as UGA president. But the fact remains, Adams did not tell the entire story, or as radio commentator Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story. The contributions are far below the amounts they should be and represent how Adams' presence at UGA is hindering fundraising efforts during a period when UGA is involved in a $500 million fundraising capital campaign, its largest-ever. More importantly, they offer indisputable evidence of the immeasurable value to the University of Georgia of the same person Adams unceremoniously denied a contract extension, Dooley.

According to published reports, contributions to the University of Georgia Athletic Association were up last year from $19.6 million in fiscal 2002 to $30.1 million in fiscal 2003--a whopping 54 percent increase over last fiscal year. Meanwhile, all other giving at UGA actually declined, dropping from $43 million in the previous fiscal year to $42 million in the year that ended June 30. As a percent of total giving, pledges and contributions to the athletic program rose from roughly 31 percent in previous years to 41 percent in fiscal year 2003. As a result, the University of Georgia Athletic Department, and not Adams, was solely responsible for the $9 million increase in donations from the previous fiscal year--from $63 million to $72 million.

Failing to acknowledge that Dooley and his staff are responsible for the stellar fundraising year--42 percent of all donations and 100 percent of the fundraising increase--and trying to take credit for the same is yet another example of why Adams is an ineffective president and should no longer lead UGA. Without Dooley's fundraising prowess, the university's overall financial donations would have been heading down in fiscal 2003. And it's likely all non-athletic fundraising will continue a downward spiral as long as Adams is UGA's president.

-Audit-

The UGA Foundation is a private entity that manages the university's fund-raising operations. One of the primary duties of its board of trustees is to monitor the budgeting and expenditure of foundation money by Adams and others employed by UGA. The UGA Foundation Board of Trustees hired two independent firms to lead an inquiry into the trustees' concerns about decisions Adams has made, especially related to use of foundation money. The foundation's law firm, King & Spalding, and the national accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche are reviewing issues raised by the trustees and will report their findings in a few weeks.

A number of foundation trustees have been openly critical of Adams, and some of them have questioned Adams' overall leadership of the university and his spending of foundation money. Among the areas of concern reportedly being examined are the purchase of land in Costa Rica, a deal Adams made to pay former head football coach Jim Donnan approximately $250,000 without prior approval by the Athletic Association board, the decision by Adams to put his wife, Mary, on the foundation payroll and chartering a plane for UGA officials to attend the inauguration of President George Bush, Jr.

In addition to the Adams investigation, trustees addressed another potential conflict of interest by deciding to hire a foundation director who is independent of the university. Until recently, that position was held by Tom Landrum, Adams' top aide. This definitely was a conflict of interest. The trustees rightly decided it would be best if, in the future, the organization's director did not have close ties to the president's office. In another positive move, the board also named Allan Barber, retired UGA vice president for finance and administration and a longtime member of the UGA Athletics Board of Directors, as the foundation's interim executive director. Barber has long been known as one of UGA's most efficient employees.

The UGA Foundation needs to be more careful in how much money it gives Adams. Many scholarships could be given to needy young men and women seeking to attend UGA with the money Adams wastes. In the 12 months that ended March 31, 2003, the UGA Foundation approved reimbursement of approximately $250,000 in expenses submitted by the UGA President Michael Adams' office, according to records released by the non-profit corporation. Among the expenditures were $2,504 for a big screen TV for the president's house; about $1,600 for bottled water for the president's home and office, and a $1,200 glass vessel as a going-away gift for Provost Karen Holbrook, who left UGA to become president of Ohio State University, and nearly $6,000 for Holbrook's going-away party.

How does Adams warrant blowing $1,600 on bottled water? Doesn't he and his staff have access to water faucets and cups? Also, how can he explain wasting $2,504 for a television? And spending nearly $7,200 for a gift and party for a former Provost is terribly excessive. These expenditures provide further evidence that an audit was warranted. And surely if the audit findings cause an eventual vote of no-confidence in Adams by the UGA Foundation Board of Trustees, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents would demand his resignation and if he did not comply, fire him.

-Athletics Director Job Description-

One of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard is UGA paying a firm to help develop a job description for UGA athletics director. How stupid can you get? It's yet another way for Adams to waste UGA's money.

Baker-Parker and Associates, an Atlanta search firm, was hired by Adams to identify possible candidates to replace Dooley. Dan Parker is a partner in this recruiting firm that helps college search committees select presidents, deans and athletic administrators. Ironically, Parker's firm was instrumental in the selection of Adams as UGA president despite the fact that Adams was apparently the fourth choice of four finalists for the post. The University of Georgia Athletic Association is paying Parker's company to manage this unnecessary search when the school already has the top athletics director in the nation.

It's been reported that Parker stated long ago that "Dooley had to go," so there seems to be a long-time conspiracy against Dooley, also a Hall of Fame football coach at Georgia (1964-88). The relationship between Adams and Parker is a definite conflict of interest for UGA and reminds me of an old adage..."Birds of a feather flock together." These birds surely are not doing what is in the University of Georgia's best interest.

The firm has released a detailed job description for the University of Georgia athletics director position. According to the job description, the athletics director is responsible for the administration and direction of UGA's athletic program, which fields 21 intercollegiate teams (nine men's and 12 women's) and has an annual budget of about $45 million. Other duties include developing policies and procedures, implementing programs to increase revenue for the athletic department and approving budget allocations for each sport.

It also reads that the position "requires someone who may have considerable expertise in intercollegiate athletics management, a keen business sense, and an appreciation for the important role athletics plays in a great public university."

Sure sounds like Dooley, doesn't it? Indeed, the description mirrors what Dooley has done--and done very successfully--for 24 years.

Adams did not include Dooley in the process to find his successor, as either a search committee member or a search consultant. Adams unwisely even wants to hire a new athletics director by the end of 2003--six months before Dooley's departure from the post.

Adams should start conducting all business at the university that is in its best interest instead of for his personal gain or to feed his ego. One of the first ways he could do so is granting the contract extension Dooley requested and deserves.

-Adams' popularity-

Unquestionably, Adams is not a popular person among the vast majority of University of Georgia faculty, staff and supporters. In fact, his popularity seems to have decreased by leaps and bounds since he denied Dooley's contract extension request. On the other hand, Dooley may be more popular than he's ever been during his 40 years at UGA. Not only is Dooley's popularity so high because others resent the way he has been mistreated by Adams, it's also because he has built an athletic program that is the envy of every major college in America in every form of measurement.

Adams has been quoted in newspapers as saying "many people support his decision not to extend Dooley's contract." Who are these "many" people? Surely, not the 60,000-plus who signed the axe-adams.com Internet petition. Nor are they a majority of the UGA students and faculty, who loathe him. And certainly they are not contributors to the school and other Bulldog fans, whom clearly an overwhelming majority want him fired. I challenge the good "Doctor" to produce names of these "many" people. I also challenge Adams to walk onto the Sanford Stadium playing field at a Bulldogs game, pre-announced over the stadium loud speakers, and then let Dooley follow him, also pre-announced. Adams would be booed out of the stadium, while the approval roar for Dooley would be long and almost deafening.

Sadly, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, ironically a former player for Dooley at UGA, and the Board of Regents have so far let Adams do as he pleases, regardless of how much damage he is doing to the University of Georgia. Adams apparently has convinced Perdue and the Board of Regents that it is a matter of athletics winning out over academics if Dooley is granted a contract extension, and that UGA is in the best shape financially, and in all other aspects as its ever been. Perdue and the Board of Regents must still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy if they believe Adams. Neither Adams nor any member of the Board of Regents attended the Greater Atlanta Bulldog Club Meeting this year, cowardly on their parts. And while no one should have expected Adams to show up at the petition presentation calling for his ouster, none of the Board of Regents appeared at their own headquarters to accept it either. Instead, they asked that the petition be left with one of their office workers, gutless on their parts too. It's as if Perdue and the Board of Regents are completely out of touch with the UGA constituency, or sadly, they don't care.

When Dooley announced that he was "calling off the Dogs" in regards to Adams in July, he was simply urging fans not to do anything to give Adams ammunition to further disguise Dooley's contract extension request as a matter of athletics winning out over academics if approved. Dooley still would like a contract extension, so Bulldog fans still need to do whatever they can, especially carrying signs and posters, booing Adams and wearing clothing at each home football game in support of Dooley to let Purdue, the Board of Regents and others know that this controversy has not been abated and needs to be solved.


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