(Other UGA news: Branden Smith cleared to play.)
ATHENS — Greg McGarity, the University of Florida’s No. 2 athletic official, will be named the new athletic director at the University of Georgia, a person who spoke directly with McGarity told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday night.
The person, who asked not to be named because an announcement hasn’t been made, said McGarity told him he will travel to Athens for a news conference on Friday afternoon.
(UPDATE, 8:20 A.M. FRIDAY: Georgia announced this morning that UGA President Michael Adams will hold a news conference on the AD matter at 4 p.m. at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. In addition, the UGA Athletic Board, which would approve the hire and contract of a new AD, called a special meeting for 3 p.m., also at the Georgia Center.)
McGarity didn’t return repeated phone calls from the AJC on Thursday. UGA officials had no comment.
Georgia has been searching for an athletic director since Damon Evans resigned in the aftermath of a June 30 DUI arrest in Atlanta.
McGarity, an Athens native and a 1976 graduate of UGA, began his career in the Georgia athletics department, serving in a variety of roles –- administrative assistant, women’s tennis coach, assistant sports information director and assistant athletic director -– before leaving for Florida in 1992.
At Florida, McGarity’s current title is executive senior associate athletic director, meaning that he is the right-hand man to highly regarded athletic director Jeremy Foley.
McGarity applied for the Georgia job in a July 16 letter to UGA’s associate vice president for human resources.
“I have been very fortunate to work alongside the very best in collegiate athletics at two outstanding institutions, the University of Georgia and the University of Florida, over the last three decades,” McGarity wrote. “I know what it takes to lead and direct an athletic program at the highest level, and am ready to lead the University of Georgia Athletic Association into the future.”
Rumors swirled around Georgia’s athletic department on Thursday about an impending hire, but there was no official word.
Associate athletic director for communications Claude Felton said he had not been informed of an impending announcement. Football coach Mark Richt said he had not been informed who his new boss will be.
“I’ve been hearing rumors, like everybody else, but I’ve not been told,” Richt said as he left the third floor of the Butts-Mehre athletics building Thursday night. “I’ve just been coaching ball, really.”
Richt said interim athletic director Frank Crumley told him Thursday that “there would be an announcement soon, but he didn’t tell me who.”
Crumley did not return calls from the AJC.
Georgia’s search committee and UGA President Michael Adams are believed to have considered a number of candidates, including Crumley, businessman Mark Lewis and others.
Lewis, a former Georgia football player who is now president of JetSet Sports, a leading provider of Olympic hospitality packages, told the AJC Thursday that he’d heard a decision had been made on a hire and would be announced Friday. Lewis said he didn’t know who the hire would be. He said he did not interview for the position.
Forty-nine people applied for the position, according to documents obtained by the AJC in response to an open-records request last week. A 50th, sports-marketing executive and former Georgia football player Chris Welton, confirmed earlier this week that he had added his name to the list.
McGarity got some high-profile support for the job, including a letter to “enthusiastically recommend” him from U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga.
“He is ready to get back to his hometown and to serve his alma mater in this distinguished position,” Kingston wrote to Adams. “I hope you will give him the fullest consideration possible.”
McGarity also interviewed for the Georgia AD job before Evans was hired in 2003.
McGarity lettered on Georgia’s tennis team in 1973 and first worked for the UGA athletics department as a student assistant while earning a degree in journalism.
(Staff writer Chip Towers contributed to this article.)