Athens — A new contract for athletics director Damon Evans. A facelift for Stegeman Coliseum. And a new plaza for Sanford Stadium.
Those will be the results of actions taken Wednesday by the board of directors of the University of Georgia Athletic Association.
The board, at its regular quarterly meeting, voted to give Evans a new five-year contract with a big boost in pay and to spend $21.3 million on new construction projects.
– In executive session with Evans out of the room, the board approved a new contract that will mean a $110,000 raise for Evans effective July 1 — from his current $440,000 salary to $550,000. The contract calls for Evans to receive additional $20,000 raises in each subsequent year, putting his salary at $630,000 in the final year of the deal. Also, he will receive a $250,000 longevity bonus if he remains in the job when the contract expires on July 1, 2015.
– The board voted to proceed with a project that will renovate and widen the concourses of Stegeman Coliseum, adding restrooms and concessions stands and giving the 46-year-old building a modern glass facade on two sides.
– And the board voted to create a 45,000-square-foot entry plaza in the Reed Alley area behind the north stands of Sanford Stadium — a project designed to add amenities on football game days and enhance that part of campus year-round.
While approving the $21.3-million expenditure on the two construction projects, the board did not decide how to pay for them. The board’s finance committee will weigh whether to pay for the projects from the Athletic Association’s cash reserves, which are projected to reach $60 million by the end of this fiscal year, or to seek financing at attractive interest rates.
“The great thing is, we can move forward because we know we have the money there, $60 million sitting in that reserve fund,” Evans said.
The action on a new contract for Evans came with 17 months remaining on his current deal.
“I’m touched deeply by it,” Evans told the board after it emerged from executive session.
The new contract will replace the final year of the old deal, which was to have raised Evans’ salary to $460,000 on July 1. On that date, he will receive a $100,000 longevity bonus due under the old contract.
Evans, who grew up in Gainesville and played football at Georgia, has been UGA’s athletics director since July 1, 2004.
“He’s already become a nationally recognized figure in athletics, and we are fortunate to have him,” UGA President Michael Adams said Wednesday.
“I think he’s done an extraordinary job. … And there’s not been a whiff of impropriety during that six-year period. If you’re the president of an institution, that means a whole lot.”
Adams said the average salary of athletics directors in the SEC last year was $532,000.
Evans, 40, exuded enthusiasm about the new contract.
“We’ve got a lot left to do,” he said. “I want to see us grow in so many different phases. … I want to see us recognized as the elite program, and I sincerely mean that.
“I’m fortunate,” Evans added. “Who wouldn’t want to be the athletic director at the University of Georgia? … An old country guy from Gainesville, Georgia — who would have ever thought? It is just a blessing.”
Evans also was pleased by the board’s vote on the construction projects, which he said are designed to enhance the fan experience at events. Neither will add seats.
University architects said the plaza will be completed by the start of the 2010 football season and the coliseum renovation by the start of the 2010-11 basketball and gymnastics seasons.
The coliseum will look significantly different on the north and south sides. The outer walls will be moved out as far as the roof overhangs the current structure, adding more than 10,000 square feet of concourse space. The glass-clad exterior “will have a dramatic effect,” UGA campus architect Danny Sniff said.
The Reed Alley plaza is designed to be part of Sanford Stadium on game days, adding restrooms and concessions stands, but also to be left open to campus on other days.
“It’s a combination,” Evans said, “of something that is good for the university throughout the entire year and for those six or seven Saturdays will give our patrons a better experience.”