UGA’s Evans has eye on the prize

Damon Evans marks five years as UGA’s athletics director Wednesday, and the Athens Banner-Herald takes a look at how he’s fared so far, noting that financially he’s been something of a superstar, with the athletic budget growing from $50.2 million to $84.8 million under Evans. Also in his tenure, a $30 million state of the art basketball practice facility was finished and a $40 million expansion of the Butts-Mehre complex is about to begin.

Of course, Evans had a head start on success considering the high level of the program when he took over. As Evans himself says, he inherited from mentor Vince Dooley “something that had an unbelievable foundation from a financial standpoint, from the sports programs. We inherited some veteran, champion coaches that have done great jobs.”

The recent signing of a new $92.8 million eight-year media rights deal with ISP Sports has to rank as Evans’ biggest achievement to date, but UGA having the SEC’s top Academic Progress Report in football perhaps is just as noteworthy, considering the challenges the school has faced in that area in the past.

Evans also gets points (though perhaps not from coach Mark Richt) for his aggressive upgrading UGA’s nonconference football schedule in an effort to build the brand nationally. One indication of progress there is UGA ranking No. 2 or 3 nationally the past two quarters in royalties on merchandise. 

But Evans recognizes that managing the expectations of the Bulldogs fan base, particularly in football, requires even more progress. He told the ABH: “We’ve grown to a recognizable program in the country. The next step that we want to take is to be … one of those programs that are mentioned year after year for the national championship, one that’s consistently going to BCS bowl games.”

Elsewhere, promoting assistant Jay Clark, the recruiting power behind the throne in UGA gymnastics, to replace ultra successful Suzanne Yoculan looks like a good move by Evans. 

The verdict is still out on is other marquee hire, new basketball coach Mark Fox. While Evans didn’t flinch in pulling the trigger on firing the sinking Dennis Felton midseason, he did let the public relations aspects of his search for a new coach get out of hand, with all sorts of big names being bandied about before he settled on a dark horse candidate in Fox. Evans’ choice may end up being a brilliant one, but it came off as underwhelming after all the hype.

Overall, though, I believe Evans was the right man for the job and so far has lived up to expectations. And I like the way he thinks big. 

How do you grade Evans after five years?

68 comments Add your comment

And he did this...

June 29th, 2009
10:54 am

…under the glare of the BIG DAWGS who were totally upset with MA and his treatment of Prince Dooley. And you are correct, he did handle the basketball hiring less than adroitly, but it appears he did the right thing even with the hype and mis-steps. Only time will tell whether either of these high profile hires will work.

UGAredcoat

June 29th, 2009
11:14 am

I believe he has done a great job overall, but as a member of the marching and basketball band for four years under his tenure I feel he tended to cut back on us. At basketball games he severely limited what music we were allowed to play and chant and cut our playing time during the game by a lot. At the Hawaii vs. UGA game, he threatened to fire our director if we played our version of Soulja Boy, despite Richt and several players coming to ask us personally to play it.

Still, with everything else he has done a great job overall.

Go Dawgs!

Robert

June 29th, 2009
11:14 am

He is an excellent AD. You can’t deny what he has done. Can’t wait to see how this basketball hire works out…

Funny, we got our daily “Tech student gets robbed” report early today.

Robert

June 29th, 2009
11:16 am

I can certainly understand why he would not want the Redcoats to play rap music, especially on the Sugar Bowl big stage.

heyberto

June 29th, 2009
11:24 am

I can’t think of anyone besides Dooley that I’d rather have. Our Athetic Department is in the black, and made the 2nd most money in the country, or something like that. Hard to argue with that kind of performance by the driver of the UGA Athletics ship.

Huh?

June 29th, 2009
11:27 am

He’s done a good job but its really too early to tell. We go through basketball coaches like freaking paper towels so we’ll just have to see about that one. I love his philosophy on football scheduling and love the quote about taking it to the next level. Given that, I wonder how patient he’ll be if our defense is giving up 30+ points again this year.

Coach BoBo

June 29th, 2009
11:28 am

Cuz

June 29th, 2009
11:29 am

I give him a B. I am still ticked about selling handicapped parking at the stadium to big donors.

YoungDawg

June 29th, 2009
11:33 am

Damon has done a good job achieving his goals financially & razing the profile of UGA athletics. However he’s failed in getting anything done on the major facility needs! Those would be:
-Something needs to be done ASAP about Stegeman!
-We keep hearing CMR has picked other projects over an Indoor Practice Facility that doesn’t matter! Get it done! Even if it means we use a temp solution for now. CMR says he doesn’t want to go that route but if we had one the next time we needed to use it I’m guessing he’d change his mind.
-The concourses at Samford need to be upgraded to professional top notch level to match what’s been done at AL & TN.
-Went to a Gwinnett Braves game recently & thought Damon needs to come see this stadium & see what we need to replace Foley Filed with! It could be done in one off season at the same site!

With all the money we’re making there’s no excuse for these facility needs not being addressed. Oh it’s great we have a “master plan” let’s just see dirt moved on the projects in it!

Other than that the whole Mark “WHO?” thing didn’t look good. I still recall the sportscaster saying “Mark F..” I’m like oh we got Few! Oh wait he said Mark WHO?!? Mark Fox is looking more & more like a good hire but Damon did botch at least the PR on that hire. I think Adams had something to do with all of that mess & we’ll probably be thankful Fox wanted the job. If they couldn’t get a big name coach they wanted a CMR type of guy so there fall back choice looks good for now & great if he turns things around. It’ll be interesting to see if we start winning if we can keep him or replace him with bigger name next time.

My final issue with Damon is not locking up our top football assistants with buyout clauses specifically Rodney Garner. Pay the man whatever it takes to keep other schools away & give him a buyout clause to stop the yearly attempts by rivals to hire him.

So my grade for Damon is a C! He needs to get the facilities or needed improvements moving. Then handle certain personnel matters better. The failures in those areas counter balance his successes!

Robert

June 29th, 2009
11:34 am

Cuz, is that Evan’s catering to big donors or Michael Adams? I would venture to guess Adams.

SEC

June 29th, 2009
11:34 am

Much rather have Dooley but he has done well. Now just get Mike Adams out of there

Maddog

June 29th, 2009
11:41 am

I still wonder if the personnel moves have been his call, or that of Adams. Same with the out of conference football schedule. Nothing like placing an additional burden on Richt.

Huh?

June 29th, 2009
11:47 am

“Same with the out of conference football schedule. Nothing like placing an additional burden on Richt.”

Yes, poor ole Richt. The burden of playing in nationally televised out of conference matchups that every blogger and talking head from sea to shining sea is talking about is really taxing on his program. Next thing you know he’ll sign another Knowshon Moreno, Matthew Stafford, or A.J. Green. That would be TERRIBLE. We need to play more D-1aa creampuffs so Kirk Herbstreit can make fun of us on Gameday like he did last year and we can return to the Donnan/Goff days of absolute irrelevancy. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Good grief. Nevermind the narrow minded naysayers Damon. Keep up the good work.

SickandTired

June 29th, 2009
11:48 am

Damon is a star, I hope he holds his coaches to a standard that is equal to his own accomplishments. Mark Richt is a nice coach but is he the guy that is gonna elevate the football program to the place that the support deserves. The facilities, the money, the support do not warrant another a 4 year stretch when we do not even win the East. It’s time to turn up the heat and demand championships not just be the Wisconsin of the SEC.

UGAfans=lozers

June 29th, 2009
11:48 am

He’s done all right considering all the inbred rednecks he has to pacify.

AC

June 29th, 2009
11:51 am

Too much praise for Evans. Not enough credit given to Richt in all these successes. Where is his name in all of this? WINNING breeds success. Without Richt bringing a winning mentality to UGA football, there would not be as great a following.

Evans needs to be careful in my opinion because there has been a slight war of words between he and Richt in the media over the GA/FLA game and the schedule. The schedule, although entertaining, is ridiculous. We play in the SEC. We do not need to schedule tough opponents.

WHAT WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE, A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OR A COMPETITIVE SCHEDULE?

Look at UF’s schedule this year. It is a joke. That is why the last the season and compete for a National Championship. That is why USC is always in the mix. Although in their case it is a weak conference schedule. FSU in it’s hey day had a weak ACC to schedule. Ever since the ACC expanded and became a tougher league, they have not had nearly the success in the NC picture. The point is you have to have weak teams on the schedule to rest your starters and let your reserves get some playing time.

If we do not play the ASU game last year, the Alabama game might have had a different outcome according to some experts. Richt even alluded to as much.

EVANS HAS DONE A GREAT JOB, but he does NOT need to bite the hand who feeds him and that is COACH MARK RICHT.

Give the COACH what he wants. ATL every four years and an easier non-conference schedule. If you are going to schedule tough opponents, then drop GT and Auburn from our yearly schedule.

And for the record, I like the game in Jacksonville and I like the GT and Auburn game.

YoungDawg, I sure hope...

June 29th, 2009
11:54 am

…you did not really go to UGA! “Razing the profile of UGA athletics” means to tear down the profile; and, it is SANford Stadium, not SAMford, though I guess you could have been talking about the concourses at Samford University in Birmingham.

Dawg Fud

June 29th, 2009
11:56 am

B-

let’s see how the Fox hire works out

AC

June 29th, 2009
11:57 am

Congratulations to the UGA program. However, Richt deserves of the credit for building the UGA brand. Winning breeds success.

BugKiller

June 29th, 2009
11:59 am

If he had actually stepped in and had done for the good of the football that Richt refuses to do and fire Willie Martinez, he’d have my vote of confidence on a hire like Mark Fox.

But Fox to me, is a HUGE reach. For Evans not to even LOOK at Anthony, the coach a FOUR TIME National Champion AD wanted to be his head coach had Donovan left for Orlando…

… that’s just stupid.

Almost as stupid as giving a RAISE to the incompetent Willie Martinez.

Reality Check

June 29th, 2009
12:04 pm

YoungDawg – If we had it your way we would be in a financial mess. All those projects you just mentioned would be well over $100M.

The Dogfighter Returns

June 29th, 2009
12:04 pm

Junk yard are you ok? The guy doesn’t play on the field. He’s a dirty stinkin mutt who played for the mutts what else do you want?

mike on lake hartwell

June 29th, 2009
12:13 pm

i’ll give him a B+ with the possible upgrade
to A+ or downgrade to C+ based on what happens
with Fox and the basketball team.

Facade

June 29th, 2009
12:13 pm

Michael Adams canned Prince Dooley.
Michael Adams picked Jim Herrick.
So….who REALLY has the power, here?

Evans is merely a “figure head.” Evans was a nobody, with no seniority, no special talent, and NO RESUME or PRIOR EXPERIENCE at anywhere near his current job title. So, that means it was a “POLITICAL HIRE.”

Evans is just the facade for the REAL power structure that operates behind the scenes. Evans always looks “lost” and “way in over his head” when he is interviewed. His background and experience are a jokoe by comparison with ANY OTHER AD IN THE SEC. Folks, it aint Evans. Just because your RIDING the train, doesnt mean you’re DRIVING the train.

The financial success of the AA has very little to do with Evans, and much more to do with the REAL power structure.

Atticus

June 29th, 2009
12:20 pm

He is a good caretaker. Good guy and I am sure he is a good AD. But the market conditions and UGAs resources were already there before he arrived.

Tech Man in Dawg Country

June 29th, 2009
12:32 pm

Even as a Tech fan, I can’t deny how well Damon Evans has done as the UGA Athletics Director. Congratulations and Good Job.

Preston

June 29th, 2009
12:35 pm

Can’t say anything bad about the guy. He did step into a very nice situation but you can’t hold that against him. If Fox gets us to some level of basketball respectability, he’ll be a hero.

GreatBigGator

June 29th, 2009
12:42 pm

A+!! The Mighty Gators have won 4 National Championships during his tenure. Keep up the good work Damon…

slimpickens

June 29th, 2009
12:53 pm

Kudo’s the Athens Banner Herald for the great reporting!

The Dawg

June 29th, 2009
12:56 pm

YoungDawg – Your immaturity is showing! You make about as much sense as some of the Tech bloggers that get on our sites. I hope you don’t work in a responsible position. It would be scary if you do.

Mobile Dawg

June 29th, 2009
12:59 pm

Let’s face it, football is the provider for everything else. I like hearing Evans vision of consistently competing for the MNC, I hope it’s not just lip service. Overall he’s done a commendable job, outside of basketball.

As I’ve said before in different words, I’m going back to being a fan vs fanatic. The high expectations the last several years coupled with the dissappointing performances in key games led to frustration and a lack of enjoyment of what the true purpose of the game is supposed to be. I’m sure it’s taken a lot of the fun out of it for other fans, as well as the players and coaches.

Living in Mobile and having to listen to what Alabama is assembling is a little scary. If we’re going to consistently compete for MNC’s that means we have to raise the bar quite a bit to get the the same level as UF and UA. Good luck and I hope we hear a lot of “How bout them Dawgs” in 09 and early 2010….

The Dawg

June 29th, 2009
1:02 pm

Facade – Some of you people need to do your homework before you speak. Damon Evans was groomed for several years by Vince Dooley to take this job over. Adams would like to claim all the credit for hiring Evans, but real Dawgs know better. Obviously you don’t.

Rebel Rouser

June 29th, 2009
1:04 pm

Hey Facade.. you need to go take a couple of asprin and chill out …you are wound tighter than a cheap watch…..Damon Evans is well respected in college athletics by all athletic directors. He was toutored by Dooley who backed the choice for him to succeed him ( although earlier than he wanted). I’ll take him over the jerk at Florida and the pansy at Tech any day of the week. So go back to your trailor and watch reruns of Gillgans Island.

Thunder Dawg

June 29th, 2009
1:05 pm

Although Damon cut his teeth under Dooley, he was promoted to the position of AD by Michael Adams who in in a class all by himself.
He is the slickest thing that has ever shadowed the halls of UGA.
Compared to Adams, Dooley(Who I Love)is a small time local phenom.
Adams arrived in Athens from the provebrial BIG TIME and we as Dawgs
have prospered from the results of his scheming.He has rubbed many of us,including myself,the wrong way, in his house cleaning at Butts-Meyer.
But, many of us are looking forward to the day he returns to the BIG TIME and the sooner the better. As far as Damons progress and success,
He’s learned from a BIG TIME navigator—he should be ready to call his own shots by the time Adams departs! Will probably end up as one of the best AD’s we’ve ever had.

Forrest Gump

June 29th, 2009
1:06 pm

Revenues have grown because of Michael Adams’ scams, like diverting student tickets for season ticket sales, selling parking spaces, squeezing fat cats, and sucking up to politicians like Sonny Perdue and creepy state legislators. Evans has absolutely no say so about anything. He may be a decent person, but for now, he is nothing but a puppet.

The grader

June 29th, 2009
1:07 pm

Did Bill call Mark Fox a marquee hire? Is he kidding? Damon would have gotten an A except for the absymal hiring of whoever this basketball coach is. We had a chance to go after Anthony Grant who was the hottest name in up and coming coaches and instead of making a move we sat on our butts while Bama moved in and scooped the guy up. What the hell was that all about?

For losing a shot at the hottest name in coaching at the time and getting this mark fox guy Damon’s grade drops all the way from an A to a C+. Obviously I’m still disgusted over the handling of this.

59bulldawg

June 29th, 2009
1:08 pm

Damon’s an excellent AD! But then again he learned from the best as he was mentored by Vince. Hope he stays at the helm as long as he wants.

The grader

June 29th, 2009
1:21 pm

I would have to agree with Mobile dawg and losing to the bammers on the Anthony Grant hire is one thing that has me steamed about Damon. The other seems to be that as Mobile Dawg points out its kinda scary to see what’s going on over at Bammerland.

They seem to be on a roll. They upgraded their facilities and their stadium is being expanded to over 100k. Satan initiated talks to have his contract extended through 2016. That’s kinda scary and as much as I hate to admit it they seem to be the sleeping giant in football that has re-awakened.

I follow recruiting and I’ve heard all the crap about them having back to back no. 1 ranked recruiting classes. I looked the other day to see how we are doing. We’ve got 11 gooduns so far and are ranked somewhere like 7th or 8th. Satan is at it again and they were ranked no. 2 I think so far in both of the recruiting services. Is he going to beat us every year in recruiting?

Blackout game was a fluke in my opinion. But the reality is that if we ever get by the gayders then we’re going to have to contend with these guys and with the talent they seem to be stockpiling the next time we play them it may not be a fluke if we lose. I can’t be the only one noticing these things.

PBR=America in a can

June 29th, 2009
1:28 pm

Its funny how Tech fans call the Bulldog Nation “rednecks” “hillbillies” and brag about how much money they make and their athletic program routinely has to resort to giving away hotdogs and cokes to get people to buy tickets. If tech fans were so wealthy why is tech always so far behind UGA in revenue? Probably because the same ones that are bragging are the same tech fans that come and service my printer every 4 months. UGA has a waiting list for season ticket order forms and have an 84 million dollar budget. When Tech fired Chan the man they almost didn’t do it so they wouldn’t have to pay his remaining salary. That’s why tech will always be a second rate athletic program who once in every 8 years accidently beats Georgia.

D3

June 29th, 2009
1:35 pm

Bill King – doing a great job rocking out a new blog posting each day. Excellent work!

Halsey

June 29th, 2009
1:38 pm

B+

My only criticism is that the basketball programs have gotten worse in recent years and he hasn’t convinced me he’s done much to remedy that. The men’s team was horrible last year and the women’s team have become kinda average for an SEC team.

Facade

June 29th, 2009
1:47 pm

Michael Adams als fired Jim Donnan, over the objecitons of Prince Dooley. Evans is simply Adams hand-puppet.

When you look (for those with the intellignece to look) at the resumes of the other SEC AD’s, there is simply NO COMPARISON…AT ALL. Evans background doesnt even come close.
Evans experience is is Academic Compliance, which of course we’ve all learned is…um, well, let’s just say, never been a “priority” in athens. Evans is just the “Compliance Officer” hired to run the “CYA Program” for the football boosters.

D-Nile

June 29th, 2009
1:50 pm

UGA = PBR of College Education

Maddog

June 29th, 2009
1:57 pm

huh?, speaking of narrow minded – you feel the OOC schedule is not “taxing” the UGA program. A program is NOT measured by OOC games, it’s measured by wins and losses. Even Richt has expressed his concern about the OOC schedule. So now you know more than Richt? LMAO! What a coward – you’re afraid of what Kirk Herbstreit is going to say? LMAO!! Good grief, man, grow a pair. Herbstreit literally gushes about Florida and have you seen their OOC? It hasn’t hurt his love for the gators. Nobody said we need to return to the irrelevancy of previous coaches, but what will you be saying if we lose two of the 3 OOC games? Will you be one of the numbskulls calling for Richt’s job? I’m not condoning playing cream puffs on a regular basis, however, if you want to wave the UF banner (2 NCs in 3 years) and say we need to do what they do, then you cannot kill yourself with a brutal OOC schedule.

Maddog

June 29th, 2009
2:06 pm

huh? – one thing I failed to mention. Only a fool would believe Stafford and Moreno came to UGA because of our OOC schedule. In the 4 years PRIOR to the arrival of Stafford and Moreno, here are our OOC games (excluding GT):

2005 – Boise State, Louisiana-Monroe

2004 – Marshall, Georgia Southern

2003 – Middle Tennessee State, UAB

2002 – Northwestern State, New Mexico State

Sure, huh, these are the games that attracted such impressive talent to Athens. Riiiiggggghhhhht. Lay off the decaf, huh, it’s dulling your senses.

Kevin

June 29th, 2009
2:19 pm

hey big gator u forget 5 Natl champs now…also if Evans would build a new arena for the basketball team now…replace old stegman arena be nice to….and givin wille a new contract uh-oh better get Gieco

Judge Dawg

June 29th, 2009
2:29 pm

Mark Fox is an excellent hire and will be the best BB coach yet. Grant would be a Tubby hire and would end up at Florida. Fox is taking a chance with us and we should be happy he is.Anyone notice what Thompkins had to say.

Dawgtime

June 29th, 2009
2:30 pm

Good article. UGA is on the way to the top in several areas. Okay class, on the count of three all the anti-UGA crackheads can start with the stupid stuff. Ready, 1….2……3…. Start with all the useless B.S. You guys are like sarcastic puppets. Go DAWGS….

Ron Roberts

June 29th, 2009
2:35 pm

YoungDog… The plans to renovate Stegman and upgrading its concourses will be plenty for the program to succeed. OnlineAthens.com has that if you want to see it for yourself.

TheGrader, et al… seeing what Alabama’s building on their side of the SEC should (and is, for me, anyhow) only be frightening to SEC West perennial powers (LSU, Auburn). Frankly, we don’t play them often enough to be concerned about them becoming “dominant” in the SEC, because most years, we’d only be facing them in the SEC Championship game, and any team that gets there is capable of winning it (Ole Miss and Arkansas notwithstanding). The fat-cats at LSU and UA’s arch-rivals at Auburn should be MORE concerned. Auburn’s ENABLING ‘Bama’s rise to (new) prominence in that steet.

Mobile Dawg…I, too, lived in Mobile, for about two years, and whether they’re good or bad, ‘Bama football’s just about all you hear about – even in the furthest reaches (as Mobile literally is) of the state.

And last I checked, not once did a facility win a national championship. UF’s stadium’s nowhere near 100,000 seats, and UT’s 100,000 seats has their program where, right now?

Besides, Saban will get bored with THIS job, as well, and if he doesn’t flat-out bolt for something more lucrative, he’ll just bore of it and that’ll show in his work.

Hey Robert

June 29th, 2009
2:46 pm

In response to your quote:

“Funny, we got our daily “Tech student gets robbed” report early today”

That’s “Funny”??!?!

Have you ever been robbed at gun point. A few tech students were shot recently in a robbery. Nothing about students getting robbed is “Funny” even if it is your rival. Show some class douchebag.