Evans scrambling to fill 2002 schedule

"As part of the contract, there is a $250,000 buyout,'' Evans said. "They understand that. I'm sure they would like to see us work in a different situation. They would like us to reschedule, but that does not do us any good (for 2002).''

Of all the items on Damon Evans' to-do list, the new lead entry is the most surprising. 

Evans, Georgia's senior associate athletics director, had no plans to be scrambling to fill the Bulldogs' 2002 schedule only seven months before the season opener. After all, Georgia's future schedules are all filled through the 2005 season. 

Thanks to what Evans says was an unexpected late decision by Tulane to pull out of its commitment to play at Georgia on Sept. 21, Evans now has very little time to find a replacement team to fill out the Bulldogs' 12-team schedule. 

That may require Georgia adding a I-AA team to its schedule, or it may mean the Bulldogs have to agree to pay some team a return visit in the future. At this point, Evans says he can't rule out any possibility. 

"It's going to be tough this late in the year and with the upcoming season being right around the corner,'' Evans said Tuesday. "I will say I'm going to try to assure we have a game because I feel it is important that we have a game in a 12-game season.'' 

Tulane assistant athletics director Donna Turner said Tuesday the Green Wave has had to adjust because Conference USA is moving from seven-game to eight-game schedules. 

"We don't have our 2002 schedule yet,'' Turner said. "I'm not really sure who is or isn't on there until I get it. I know that there was a possibility we were going to be overscheduled.'' 

Fred Gibson at the Music City Bowl.  Photo: Dean Legge
Fred Gibson and the Dawgs might be playing a Division I-AA opponent in September (Legge)

But Turner said the scheduling problem should not have caught Georgia by surprise. 

"This (Conference USA) switch has been in the works for maybe a year or so, and I was under the impression this was not something new,'' Turner said. "We had known we were somewhat overscheduled.'' 

Tulane was under contract with Georgia and so, according to Evans, faces a breech-of-contract penalty of $250,000. 

"As part of the contract, there is a $250,000 buyout,'' Evans said. "They understand that. I'm sure they would like to see us work in a different situation. They would like us to reschedule, but that does not do us any good (for 2002).'' 

The conflict also could affect plans for Tulane to visit Georgia in 2003 and for Georgia to play at Tulane in 2008. Georgia had agreed to a two-for-one contract, with Tulane making two visits to Athens in exchange for Georgia traveling to New Orleans one time. 

NOTES: Coach Mark Richt has received a $50,000 raise and a one-year extension. The reward, recommended by athletics director Vince Dooley, was approved by the executive committee of the Athletic Board. Richt's total compensation will increase from $750,000 to $800,000 and the extension brings the length of his contact back to five years.

The executive committee also approved a ticket price increase, from $27 to $32, effective immediately for 2002. Student ticket prices will go up $1, from $5 to $6. "We have never been a leader in raising ticket prices,'' Dooley said. "There are already eight schools in the SEC, and Georgia Tech, that have been charging $30 or more for their tickets, and many of them are currently considering increases as well.''


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