‘We made a mistake’ by benching Rocky, UGA’s McGarity says

ATHENS — The big controversy in UGA sports recently, at least among some students, has been the missing Rocky Run.

Tom Fell is a UGA student who dresses like the Rocky and runs to the top of Stegeman Coliseum.

Tom Fell is a UGA student who dresses like the Rocky and runs to the top of Stegeman Coliseum.

Here’s the background. Tom Fell is a UGA student who for four seasons has dressed like the movie boxer Rocky and excited the crowds in the second half of home basketball games by running to the top of  Stegeman Coliseum. He was benched at last week’s game against Vanderbilt because the athletics department sold his time slot to insurance company Geico for an in-event advertisement.

The controversy came up at the UGA Athletic Board meeting Thursday, when student representative Trey Sinyard reported to the board: “I can say that this has been a big issue on campus. . . . The pulse on that is students feel the athletics association is over-commercialized.”

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity quickly responded that Rocky will run again.

“We have had internal discussions on that and have assured students that there are some things that are sacred in our basketball games, and that’s one of those things,” McGarity said. “We acknowledge we made a mistake. I’ll take responsibility for that.”

McGarity said he understands that Fell won’t be able to make it to Saturday’s game against South Carolina because of another commitment. Said McGarity: “I don’t want people to think we’ve run him off. . . . We did not run Rocky off. He’ll be back for the LSU game [next Wednesday].”

Now that that’s settled, click here for the rest of the news from Thursday’s Athletic Board meeting.

And don’t miss Curtis Compton’s photo gallery from the dedication ceremony for the expanded Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.

– Tim Tucker, AJC

82 comments Add your comment


February 25th, 2011
10:10 am

Cool story bra


February 25th, 2011
10:14 am

Some of our players who are not hustling should be running the stairs in the second half..


February 25th, 2011
10:16 am

Nobody cares. I don’t most fans should be interested in the glorification of a single student. It was pretty funny the first time it happened at the Steg 4 years ago, but doing it every game is pretty cheesy. Most people honestly can’t wait for him, Peanut Butter Boy, the Black Knight, and the rest of the losers that sit in the front row of the student section and are the focus of ESPN’s cameras every game, to all graduate. Wear red and black and just blend in and cheer with the rest of the student section. Look at the great basketball schools like Duke, the Cameron Crazies may have a few in costumes, but at least even those kids are in blue. Paint your face or whatever, but get in line with the rest of the student section and things would look much better.


February 25th, 2011
10:19 am

Could we have Todd Grantham run the bleachers at Sanford after every opponent’s TD and Mike Bobo do the same after every 3 and out of offense?

Side benefits: Grantham loses his baby fat and Bobo may get too tired to call the plays! :-)


February 25th, 2011
10:25 am

Great idea Larry. Bobo should run if there is a 3 and out or his offense holds the ball for less than 2 minutes and leaves the field without scoring.

Grim Reaper

February 25th, 2011
10:27 am

Maybe they should have the Geico “caveman” run, even he could do it! Or have UGA sit on the couch and have Rocky holler, yo, UGA, get off the couch! Larry’s comments make the most since though.


February 25th, 2011
10:32 am

Hell, whatever it takes to win, as long as it is legal!!!

Go DAWGS!!!!! And Rocky hurry back!!!!!!!!!


February 25th, 2011
10:41 am

I’m in agreement with SouthGABrave. Can’t wait for those douchebags to graduate!


February 25th, 2011
10:41 am

I have tremendous respect for any public official that publicly admits when a mistake was made and accepts responsibility. Signs of great management style. Somehow I don’t see our former AD doing that IMHO.


February 25th, 2011
10:43 am

noticed all the in stadium ads at fotball games became prominent around 2007. one reason to pay for tickets and attend a game in person is to avoid the endless advertisements on TV. I’, not sure why the AD thinks we need so much


February 25th, 2011
10:48 am

This is fun. But it runs the risk of encouraging more students to be the next “Rocky” or “Spiderman” or whatever to get the camera time. It sets a very bad example to give one student or one fan for that matter the free publicity. Let students be students and fans be fans, but don’t glorify any individual.


February 25th, 2011
10:50 am

Seriously ? For real ? S-L-O-W news day, huh ?


February 25th, 2011
10:56 am

I hate that the A.D. has benched the Dance Dawgs that are also part of the athletic dept. to only one dance per game. They should at least be able to dance once in the first half and once in the second half. They performed a lot more in years past and even the cheerleaders appreciated that they took the lead for some portions of the breaks during the games. What’s up with that Greg?

JF McNamara

February 25th, 2011
10:56 am

Let those kids have fun. It’s college. If they want to dress like dorks to grab attention and entertain some fans, who are you to judge?

UGA is a mid tier team in a weak basketball conference whose only history of note is Wilkins and cheating. They aren’t Duke. If they want to do that to make watching mediocre basketball more fun, why not?


February 25th, 2011
10:57 am


February 25th, 2011
11:03 am

He has “another commitment”?

What?…is GDOT short a traffic cone?


February 25th, 2011
11:12 am

“Bobo should run if there is a 3 and out…”
That’s just cruel, Otto.

NBA players aren’t in good enough shape to run that much . . .

Texas Pete

February 25th, 2011
11:19 am

Bring back the red bleacher creature looking pom-pom dude from the 90s!


February 25th, 2011
11:24 am

As a student who actually understands good basketball and what a student section should be, both rarities at UGA, I’m embarrassed by the whole Rocky event. And the entire front row of idiots on the baseline. They’re rude punks who care more about making fools out of themselves for the sake of being stupid rather than as a part of the student section as a whole. It was funny the first time, and it has become idiotic. The departure of this whole group, from Fell to rat tail and their entire group, may be the best thing to ever happen to the student section for any UGA sport.


February 25th, 2011
11:32 am

JF McNamara,

I think you are outnumbered by people who actually know the game and what a good atmosphere should be. Fox is trying to transform Georgia into a school worth watching in basketball and he’s doing a good job.

ugastudent, PaleRider, and Tuna know the deal.


February 25th, 2011
11:37 am

Let’s cut the movie scenes at the end of the game. We have the same late-game crowd energy tactics each game. And it’s tiresome. If you have to jack the crowd up through artificial means, at least change it up some. Be creative. Pull some movie scene out of the blue. Have a clip from “There Will Be Blood” with Daniel Plainview crazily declaring “I drink your milkshake.” I would cheer louder, along with about four other people … And if we have to watch Rocky, let’s at least find someone to play Ivan Drago at Stegmen.


February 25th, 2011
11:42 am

Cut me, Mick.

Longtime Ticket Holder

February 25th, 2011
11:45 am

For those of you worried about the focus on Mr. Fell instead of the “student fans” allow me to remind you of this: This is his 4th season.

He was there running under Felton when you couldn’t drag the “student fans” into the Steg.
He was running last year, when people were still wondering who Mark Fox was.

So now that the students have decided to climb on the band wagon, it’s supposed to be all about them? Spare me your blending in with the Red and Black routine. Spare me the “they’re so rude”. Even if they reveled in the attention, they were there to support UGA Basketball when many students and fans weren’t. And that ladies and gentlemen is the sign of a real “student fan”.


February 25th, 2011
11:57 am

I agree with the sentiments of SouthGaBrave, ugastudent, PaleRider, and Tuna. So do most students I know who’ve gone to football and basketball games. It seems pretty clear their motivation isn’t to inspire the team – could it be that they actually believe Trey, Travis, or Coach Fox get inspired by seeing Rocky and crew saunter around the baseline like toddlers? It comes across as childish self-aggrandizing. They remind me of the scene from Seinfeld:


February 25th, 2011
12:23 pm

CMF needs to lite a fire under his players!!!!

Another season ticket holder

February 25th, 2011
12:28 pm

I agree with you, Longtime Ticket Holder! Rocky brings an enthusiasm to UGA basketball that many in Athens don’t have. Besides, what’s the difference in Rocky and the guys that paint their chests at the football games? Many Junior GA Bulldawgs, like my 7-year-old, love Rocky and the guys on the front row. I hope my son grows up to be as passionate a supporter of his future school as Rocky has been.

Dr. Phil

February 25th, 2011
12:30 pm

Dress Adams as a pirate and let him swing down from the rafters.

Flying Tigers

February 25th, 2011
12:43 pm

Yawn…really? who cares.


February 25th, 2011
12:44 pm

It looks like he went with Rocky IV Rocky. Excellent choice. We all know it was the best Rocky.

“If I’z can change, and youz can change, we all can change!!!”

Powerful stuff.


February 25th, 2011
12:48 pm

Why stop at forgoing additional revenue? McGarity should hire a group of clowns and put them on the opposite baseline for congruence, and pay the magician from the halftime show of the Florida game to continuously perform his act behind the home bench. Rebrand Stegeman as The Sacred Circus. Hey circuses are filled with enthusiasm, right? Who goes to basketball games to watch basketball anyways?


February 25th, 2011
1:07 pm

It has been almost 30 years since I was a student at UGA, but I am proud of how this was handled. Whether or not Rocky gets to keep running up the stands is not really the point. The Student Representative made a criticism in a respectful way. The AD listened, didn’t brush him off, and didn’t get defensive. I like that.


February 25th, 2011
1:19 pm

@grimreaper, I hate to be the bearer of bad news buddy, but UGA died…again.

REMinds me

February 25th, 2011
1:20 pm

Need the Blue Man group to perform. I think those guys are cool.


February 25th, 2011
1:31 pm

since he can’t be there film him and show it on the screen


February 25th, 2011
1:47 pm

@SouthGaBrave: Tom Fell took a silly thing I started in 1998 and took it to a whole ‘nother level. It was funny the first time or two I did it back then, and by my last year in the band in 2000, I was tired of doing it (including physically!).

But the reason I kept doing it was because the students got into it and went nuts. College kids (including myself at the time) are generally dumb and get worked up over dumb things. That hasn’t changed over the history of Georgia sports. The Cameron crazies do stupid things too—just b/c they do it in unison doesn’t mean they’re any “better” than these kids. The fact that their team is perennially a winner does. Let the kids have their fun.

The Watergirl

February 25th, 2011
2:05 pm

Coach Fox has done an amazing job in a very short period, I hope we can keep him around for a long time!!
On that note please for the love of god go out and recruit some actually shooters, we get beat by teams that can shoot the 3 and stretch a lead and we have no answer


February 25th, 2011
2:06 pm

Only at UGA……


February 25th, 2011
2:49 pm

I like the dude!!!! S-P-I-R-I-T!!!!!

Clubber Lang

February 25th, 2011
3:08 pm

I pity that fool. I want to make him feel some paaaaiin.


February 25th, 2011
3:08 pm

LOOK AT ME and add Mike Woods to the list as well as LOOK AT ME UGA fans

Legend of Len Barker

February 25th, 2011
3:13 pm

It’s nice to see them admit to the mistake. For the most part, it seems that the UGA Athletic Association would rather not have the students. It’s $30 for season tickets and $2 for individual games (men’s; women’s tickets are free). Nice seats at both ends for a cheap rate.

Whenever they can, it seems like the UGAAA will disrupt that. They sometimes mess around with the seating arrangements. For the women’s game against Tennessee, students were barred from a good many seats in their section and were relegated to the very cheap ones. They’ve roped off part of the seat’s for men’s games, too, trying to get just a bit more money out of regular-price customers.

They forget that it was the students last year who brought the season to life. Rocky was there before the crowds. I – and about 3,000 others – was there was the opening game last season. The kid most notorious for coating himself in peanut butter is there as well. The students, they in particular, are the only non-fickle crowd UGA basketball has.

Sad that they are only now beginning to realize this.

Legend of Len Barker

February 25th, 2011
3:14 pm

Women’s game against Tenn. last year, I should add. Regular game tickets are little too pricey for an alum to handle, so I haven’t gone this year.


February 25th, 2011
3:30 pm

No GT student would even think of doing a clown act like this. Our students know the right ways to cheer the White and Gold teams to victory without individually calling attention to themselves. Our students are a class act.


February 25th, 2011
3:33 pm

Speedo guy is better…rocky sucks

Dawg in Malta

February 25th, 2011
3:40 pm

Has another commitment?? You mean to tell me a student who dresses up like Rocky (looks like an idiot!!) has other prior commitments. What’s he doing showing up as Rocky @ a 16 year old girl’s B-Day party (or more like it…her mother’s B-Day party??) The entertainment @ UGA basketball games stinks…Greg please get somebody that will put forth the effort to make it feasible during halftime and when the Team is not on the court to have some decent entertainment!! Right now it stinks…just ask your friend Shelnutt!!


February 25th, 2011
3:58 pm

As a new student to UGA, I think the “front row,” while a bit self promoting, at least gets into the games. I personally think, as a whole, the student body could be a much better 12th man. At the Xavier and Vandy games (both huge ones), their was a HUGE gap of empties in the upper level student section.

I personally think getting an organization like the “Izzone” or the “Orange Krush” would be a great way to unify the students as a whole and make for a crazy atmosphere.

Do any of the other students posters have any thoughts on an idea like that?


February 25th, 2011
4:00 pm

My bad, 6th man. It’s Friday and I had tests……..


February 25th, 2011
4:02 pm

@Stinger2 is that why GT sucks at basketball and football? Cuz if they are cheering like the class acts that they are, then it’s not working to well


February 25th, 2011
4:15 pm

Your coach is the clown act at GT


February 25th, 2011
4:26 pm

Fell is busy boxing Tyson in the Macon Coliseum on Saturday. Ironically he is favored to win, but not to be running with both ears at the LSU game..