Greensboro — As it does everywhere else in Bulldog Nation these days, the site of the Georgia-Florida game came up in Thursday’s meeting of the executive committee of the UGA Athletic Association board of directors at Lake Oconee.
UGA President Michael Adams and athletics director Damon Evans said, basically, that they are open-minded about what happens with the game after 2010 and that they’d like to make a decision by, say, late summer.
The best comment on the issue, though, came from board member Bob Bishop.
“I have very strong feelings about that, but the problem is I change my mind about once a week,” he said.
Adams indicated that comment crystallized a delicate decision.
“It’s not one of those [decisions] that is 90-10,” Adams said.
Another board member suggested Bulldog Nation might be divided 50-50 on the issue, to which Evans replied: “It changes a little bit [depending on] how we compete down there. The year in which we do well, I don’t hear as much about it. The year we lose, it’s, ‘We got to go.’”
While saying he has “no predisposition” one way or the other about where the game should be played after the current Jacksonville contract expires in 2010, Adams did reveal why, in years past, he has favored keeping it in Jax.
“The thing that has consistently driven me in that equation is all the folks in South Georgia who say this is their best chance to see a live game,” he said.
But Adams reiterated no decision has been made beyond 2010, and “we . . . are going to listen to folks on both sides of the equation.”
Since Georgia and Florida like to sign a new contract when existing deals get down to two games, Evans questioned whether a four-year contract — the typical length — is too short.
“It rolls around so fast,” he said. “I’d like to get to the point where this is it for a while.”
For those still wondering: No, the $40 million expansion of the football facilities at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall — approved by the board Thursday — does not include the indoor practice facility (IPF) long sought by Mark Richt.
In fact, the Butts-Mehre project pushes the IPF onto the backburner, Adams said.
And yes, Richt was OK with that.
As much as he has advocated an IPF, he decided the massive expansion/renovation of Butts-Mehre was more important.
“Let me be clear about this,” Adams told the board. “The coach was given some options. This is what he chose. And a lot of things now move ahead of an indoor practice facility. With this $40 million expenditure in the near term for football, there are a bunch of other sports that are standing out there. . . . We’ve got to do some fan-serving facilities; we’ve got to make some basketball [improvements] and some other things that now move ahead of an indoor practice facility, given the decision to do this.”
Added Evans: “Everybody brings up indoor practice facility. We have done studies; we have traveled to other institutions. . . What it came down to for Mark was, what do the student-athletes touch every single day? This [Butt-Mehre] is where they are every day. An indoor practice facility is used [only] in inclement weather.”
The Butts-Mehre project, adding 53,000 square feet of new construction and renovating 23,000 square feet of existing space, will produce a massive new weight room, a new training room, new coaches’ offices, new meeting rooms and a large multi-purpose area that will be used for receptions and other functions and, on occasion, limited football drills. But that multi-purpose area, with synthetic floor, won’t be large enough or high-ceilinged enough to be an IPF, Evans said.
“What it will allow them to do is what they call walk-throughs,” he said. “Or they can go in there and do some other drill-type work.”
The Athletic Association board gets back together this morning at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge for a presentation by Mark Fox.