St. Simons Island — Unless you’ve been following me on Twitter @ajcuga — and you really should — you haven’t heard much from me this morning. That’s because I’ve been covering the annual spring meetings of the Georgia Athletic Association’s executive and full board all day.
They finally adjourned for lunch and golf. Me? Well, after wolfing down a chicken sandwich I get to sit down and let you know what all happened in the Butler Room at the historic King & Prince Resort.
In two words — nothing historic.
The biggest news of the day was probably the board’s approval of Athletic Director Greg McGarity’s recommendation to increase the price of individual tickets for the annual Georgia-Florida football game in Jacksonville.
Ticket prices — which McGarity points out have been the same for the last five years — were raised from $40 to $60 for regular seats and $70 to $100 for club level seating for the 2012 season. Florida’s athletic board approved the same increase at its fall meeting.
“If you look at other schools that play this type of game, we’re way behind the curve,” McGarity told the board. “While it may cause some sticker shock today, I think we’ll always be at market or below.”
McGarity pointed out that the regular-seating prices remain below Alabama-Auburn ($65), Army-Navy ($65), Michigan Ohio State ($70), Notre Dame-Southern Cal ($70), Texas-Oklahoma ($110) and most others of that ilk.
McGarity’s motion to propose incremental increases in 2014 (to $70/$110) and 2017 ($75/$120) were tabled for future discussions. Florida is going to address a possible 2014 increase next month. The two schools were in tandem on ticket costs.
“We’re just trying to stay ahead of this and generate some more revenue,” McGarity said. “And we do feel like this is a unique game.”
For me, one of the most interesting — and indirectly funny — news items of the day was the fact that football ticket contributions actually increased $300,000 beyond projections for 2011-12 ($23 million) despite the Bulldogs coming off a 6-7.
That prompted a humorous exchange between executive board member Bob Bishop and President Michael Adams.
“That really says some that we increased contributions by more than $300,000 after we went 6-7,” Bishop remarked.
“Let’s don’t test that again,” Adams quipped.
McGarity theorized that is owed in part to opening against Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in the Georgia Dome on Sept. 3. The Bulldogs quickly sold out their allotment of 53,000 tickets for the game.
The most pertinent news of the day, in my opinion, came from McGarity, who declared in no uncertain terms that baseball coach David Perno will be back for at least one more season.
“Oh, yeah, absolutely. Dave’s coming back next year,” McGarity said after the board meeting adjourned. “If there were coaching changes you would have heard them in there. The bottom line is it is what it is this year.”
Unless it wins the ongoing SEC Tournament, Georgia (28-29, 16-14 SEC) will miss out on an NCAA Tournament berth for the second year in a row. The good news is the Bulldogs made a 12-game inprovement over last season while playing the nation’s second-toughest overall schedule and finished fourth overall in the conference despite losing a starter (center fielder Johnathan Taylor) to a career-ending injury for the second year in a row. The bad news is a 12-15 mark against non-conference competition.
McGarity said Perno’s failure this season over-scheduling. He said SEC teams on average played three to five non-conference games against teams with a Top 25 RPI. Georgia, he said, played 17.
“I hate to deal with could-haves and would-haves, but it speaks to what I call ‘the art of scheduling,’” McGarity said. “We talked about this in the fall. I said, ‘Dave, next year we need to have a schedule that is totally different.’ We played 56 games this year, 28 at home and 28 on the road. That model needs to look like 37 or 38 home games and maybe 18 road games. That’s what our model will look like next year. We’ve got Tech; we’ve got Clemson; we’ve got UCLA. That’s enough.”
Perno’s current contract runs through 2015.
GAA board member emeritus Sonny Seiler said the search continues for Uga IX. Uga VIII, Georgia’s English bulldog mascot, passed away this past February with lymphoma.
“Russ,” the interim mascot and a cousin in the lineage, has sired two litters, but a suitable mascot was not produced, Seiler said.
“We’re going to let Russ do Picture Day and start the season,” said Seiler, whose family has presided over the mascots since the 1956. “We hope to have one big enough maybe two-thirds of the way through t season. But Russ has a fan club of his own, you know. He can handle the job.”
Other stuff: McGarity said Georgia needs to improve in all its fall sports in order to improve it’s place in the national all-sports standings. The Bulldogs are currently No. 36 but should move up considerably after all the spring sports are concluded. Georgia is still competing in track, men’s golf and baseball. But cross country, soccer, volleyball and, yes, football, must do better each fall. . . . The board approved an $89.95 million budget, up $5 million over last year. . . . Senior tight end Aron White was named a student-athlete representative to the board. White graduate last winter but is pursuing a masters in sports management. . . . The board approved a $1.61 million expenditure from is unallocated funds account. It will be used to put in a new sound system at Stegeman Coliseum and aesthetic improvements to the ceiling; to retrofit a commons room in the Rankin Smith Center for student-tutor interaction; for moving computer servers from the Rankin Smith building to the Butts-Mehre Complex; and for cleaning and painting 6,000 precast clips at Sanford Stadium.