Management style aside, Adams has been a driving force for athletics

ATHENS — There are those who might complain about the way University of Georgia President Michael Adams went about his business as chairman of the Georgia Athletic Association’s board of directors. But most will agree that he was, first and foremost, a sports fan who wanted the Bulldogs to win in the worst way.

Adams, 64, announced Thursday morning his plans to retire from the university on June 30, 2013. That will mark the end of his 16th year in office.

During that time, Georgia has enjoyed perhaps its most success as an athletics program. The Bulldogs won 27 national titles (including equestrian and indoor tennis) and 53 SEC championships (regular season and tournament titles combined).

UGA also saw tremendous growth in athletic facilities. Among the improvements that were made during Adams’ tenure were Butts-Mehre and Sanford Stadium expansions, a complete renovation of Stegeman Coliseum, the Stegeman Athletic Training Facility, the Rankin Smith Academic Achievement Center, a new Women’s Sports Complex and the golf training facility.

“He loves sports. He loves baseball,” Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity said. “We’d sit together at a baseball game, at football games, at women’s basketball games. How many presidents do that? Dr. Adams has always been a tremendous source of counsel. There has never been one instance of intrusion.

“It has been every athletic director’s desire, what I’ve had here for the last 18 months.

Former Georgia athletic director Vince Dooley doesn’t share that assessment. Dooley and Adams butted heads on several matters toward the end of Dooley’s 40-year career in UGA athletics. Adams fired football coach Jim Donnan over Dooley’s objections following the 2000 season.

Three years later Adams refused to extend Dooley’s contract, essentially forcing Dooley into retirement. The political fallout divided Georgia supporters and eventually led the dissolution of the UGA Foundation.

Dooley was diplomatic in his reaction to Adams’ announcement but did say he thought it was time for a change.

“First of all, I commend President Adams on his retirement, his service and his contributions to the University of Georgia,” said Dooley, who devotes 27 pages to Adams in his latest book, “History and Reminiscences of the University of Georgia.” “I do believe it is time for a change and I look forward to the Bulldog Nation uniting under new leadership in the near future.”

Asked if that meant Georgia supporters were divided because of Adams, Dooley said, “I can’t say that. Regardless of the situation, I think new leadership would be good. But I’m going to stick with my statement.”

It also cannot be forgotten that Adams in 1999 championed the hiring of basketball coach Jim Harrick, who led the program into the biggest scandal in UGA basketball history. The program was cited by the NCAA for recruiting inducements, unethical conduct, academic fraud and providing extra benefits.

But others lauded Adams for his willingness to assert himself into athletic matters. Bob Bishop, who has been a member of the athletic association’s executive board for 30 years, believes Adams is the best president Georgia has ever had as an advocate for athletics.

“I think he’s going to leave an excellent legacy,” said Bishop, a retired bank executive. “He’s handled every situation we’ve had as well as it could be handled, in my opinion, with the exception of the so-called Dooley conflict. He’s been a great supporter of athletics from softball to football to equestrian.”

Bishop said he first witnessed Adams’ willingness to exert his power when Donnan was fired.

“That was the most demanding I’ve seen him on anything,” Bishop said. “He made up his mind and said, ‘We’re going to do it.’ You just don’t argue with somebody like that.”

As a former chairman of the NCAA executive committee and dean of SEC presidents, Adams became increasingly outspoken on national athletic matters such as a college football playoff and SEC expansion. McGarity doesn’t expect that to change.

“When Mike Adams talks, people listen,” McGarity said. “Very few leaders during this critical time for the NCAA have the historical perspective he has. So I expect him to be fully engaged in continuing developments of NCAA policies and procedures. Just because this is his last year doesn’t mean he’s irrelevant in that discussion.”

Said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive: “Dr. Adams has made significant contributions not only to the [SEC] but to intercollegiate athletics generally through his work as a natural leader in the field. In his many roles — as vice president, president and as a member of the executive committee — he has provided leadership in setting and achieving the conference goals.”

While he worked with Adams for only 18 months, McGarity said he’s disappointed to see him go.

“The thing I’ll miss most is a good friend, not just personal but a good friend of athletics,” McGarity said. “He’s someone who got it, someone who really knew the proper place of athletics in a collegiate setting. He and I have always been on the same page about where athletics fits in. It’s part of the university’s fabric but it’s not the most important piece.”

– Chip Towers, The UGA Blog

73 comments Add your comment

Delbert D.

May 3rd, 2012
7:12 pm

Does Adams feel that Georgia has become another University of Virginia?

Progress

May 3rd, 2012
7:19 pm

@Delbert,

Academically, UGA is now definitely considered to be in the same league as UVA. Athletically, we’re far superior. I’ll take that.

dawg4u

May 3rd, 2012
7:45 pm

UGA nation has to covet those equestrian and indoor tennis nationat titles especially since we haven’t won the NC in football in 32 years! I agree with Coach Dooley that it is time for a change but I definitely sided with Adams over Dooley in the Jim Donnan firing.

Roy

May 3rd, 2012
7:57 pm

don’t wait go now!

LakeDawg

May 3rd, 2012
8:05 pm

Adams took over a well oiled athletic machine, thanks in large part to Dooley. What Dooley built, you’re trying to give Adams credit for. I’m sure Adams wanted UGA to succeed, but I don’t see what he accomplished that wouldn’t have been expected of any UGA president. In fact, he slowed progress to some extent by forcing Harrick on Dooley.

LakeDawg

May 3rd, 2012
8:07 pm

Overall, Adams was divisive, due to an outsized ego.

dawg4u

May 3rd, 2012
8:25 pm

Michael Adams had to play the role of bad guy to Vince Dooley. I was always a big Dooley supporter since his first season in ‘64 and will admit that the Harrick hire was a bad one to be pinned on Adams. I never particularly cared for Adams but it was time for Dooley to go as well. Sometimes it is hard to retire or leave doing what we love and I just hope that I never have to be forced out or denied an extension as was Dooley. The point is that it was time for both Adams and Dooley to go. We still love and adore Coach Dooley but sometimes it is up to someone else to let us know that it’s time to move on!

Mountain Dawg

May 3rd, 2012
9:19 pm

Hines Ward for AD!

Mountain Dawg

May 3rd, 2012
9:20 pm

Billy Payne for Prez!

beanster

May 3rd, 2012
9:48 pm

“Academically, UGA is now definitely considered to be in the same league as UVA.”

Uh, I wish. Bit of a stretch if you ask me. Just a bit, though ;-)

boykin

May 3rd, 2012
10:20 pm

Lake…Adams didn’t take over the athletic program.lol

BobDawg

May 3rd, 2012
10:25 pm

BEANSTER, check out any of the National Reviews on UGA and their Academics… Pretty impressive along with the SAT requirements now…. Athens ranked as one of the Top 10 college towns to go along with it….

bubba4dawgs

May 3rd, 2012
10:31 pm

Let old times be forgotten! Long live Dooley!! He’s a class act and so is his son, Derek! UT is lucky to have him as he builds a dynasty! I just hope the Vol fans will be patient until it happens! I’m llooking for a very good year for them! As for the Dawgs, they should have a good year also….must wins, SC, Fla and of course, Missouri! GO VOLS and GO DAWGS!!

BobDog

May 3rd, 2012
10:35 pm

Dooley chose to hire RayGoff over Erk Russell. We haven’t recovered from that yet. Imagine if Erk had been head coach at UGA.

I don’t understand people criticizing Adams for increasing our academic standing. Harvard of the South would be a good thing.

ben jones

May 3rd, 2012
10:58 pm

Agree Bobdog on last part…but Erk had zero inclination to be HC at UGA. He was happy at Southern.

Pepperdine VolleyballHC

May 3rd, 2012
11:18 pm

Don’t worry about Mr. Adams. He’ll be #8 on our team..you can watch him next Fall on http://www.pepperdine.edu

Captain

May 3rd, 2012
11:37 pm

Bobdog @10:35
You are wrong. It is widely known that Vince Dooley recommended Erk for the job, he offered Erk the job pending what was assumed to be a unanimous vote by the Ath Board. Unfortunately the University of Georgia President at that time, Dr Charles Knapp, vetoed the choice insisting that Dick Sheridan be hired. Knapp was a typical bed wetting Liberal, he felt Erk was too much of a “redneck” to be Head Ball coach. Knapp made hiring Knapp his mission, and of course he failed
miserably. Erk wasn’t interested in being the “backup plan” when offered the job following Sheridan’s rejection. Goff was hired out of panic on Christmas Eve after two turndowns.

You can thank me later for the history lesson, you are welcome.

Captain

May 3rd, 2012
11:45 pm

Bobdog
As a friend of mine once told Dr Knapp, Harvard is a private university, The University of Georgia is a public state university and we’re quite happy being the Flahship University, it serves the people of our state quite well. I agreed then as I do today.

perk

May 3rd, 2012
11:51 pm

benjones and bobdog: you are both wrong as I recall. VD had nothing to do with hiring Goff. He was out of the picture during the 6 months he was deciding to run for political office. Knapp wanted Sheridan but leaked his hire – Sheridan then backed out. Everyone wanted Erk but Knapp – then Erk backed out and Goff was the median choice.

kevin

May 4th, 2012
4:14 am

adams is a worthless jezebel suckubus and can get bent

rally

May 4th, 2012
5:25 am

I personally am sick of all the sports writers quickly writing about Adams as it pertains to the ATHLETICS at UGA. I am no fan of alot President Adams policies at the University. He is a nice guy that gets alot of bad rap. Deservedly son for the botched handling in regards to DOOLEY.His role is an academian to lead people into a brighter future for employment. Since that time of the firing I think he has tried to stay away from that as much as possible. The best thing to happen was the Arch foundation being detached from the Athletic side.

You guys at the AJC need to be ashamed of yourself in comparing him to Athletics and championships and wins and losses under this man. Grow up and get lives like the rest of us have.
President Michael Adams did a heck of a job in education and UGA will lose good leadership in that category. Anytime that Athletics becomes more important than education….then the storied program will fall.

Thankfully we are in good hands and blessed to have a great football coach in CMR. I am afraid the reason him and Grantham have not signed there contract extensions is because of this issue alone. New president takes over they could boot both….and I don’t think either one of them want that nor does Bulldog nation and it would become very ugly. I think they were prewarned this was coming down the pipe, that’s why they are taking their time in the matter as to how the contract should be worded.

Memo to CMR and Grantham….I WOULD NOT HIRE ED TOLLEY TO HANDLE A CONTRACT EXTENSION in light of these new events….TOLLEY would be pressured by the Board of Regents with Don Leeburn leading the contract wording. Mark My Words.

william

May 4th, 2012
5:48 am

Enter your comments here

william

May 4th, 2012
5:54 am

Good riddance to UGA’s first and hopefully last “white trash” president. This man is both a liar and a thief. His self-promotion and narcissim truely knew no bounds.

Old Dawg

May 4th, 2012
6:35 am

“But most will agree that he was, first and foremost, a sports fan who wanted the Bulldogs to win in the worst way.”

He didn’t want to win badly enough to fire Mark Richt.

Ray Goff

May 4th, 2012
6:56 am

If ya’ll don’t stop talking bad about me and Jim, Donnan, were gonna start sitting on the Tech side in November. It was the kid’s fault we lost all of those games. They just wouldn’t listen.

Big Al

May 4th, 2012
7:25 am

Adams is a legend in his own mind.

Old School

May 4th, 2012
7:30 am

Good riddance to the egomaniac. Adams, you won’t be missed.

Hashbrown Dwag

May 4th, 2012
7:31 am

I thought going to college was about getting an advanced education?????

All you effin trailer trash Dwags need to get your A$$es back to the waffle house!

Hurt Kurbstreit

May 4th, 2012
8:09 am

I didn’t like Adams early on, especially the way he handled the Dooley situation. But lately he has done a good job and I hate to see him go now. UGA is almost always top 10 in combined sports and Adams has elevated academics. In addition, we have excellent facilities. I hope the next one continues along the same path. I suspect that he will find a way to be involved with NCAA athletics in some fashion.

kingdaddy

May 4th, 2012
8:22 am

Dr. Adams,
Don’t let the screendoor hit ya, where the Good Lord split ya!!!

True Dawg

May 4th, 2012
8:26 am

This article is a bunch of bull! 0 yes ZERO did you hear me say 0 BCS titles- no excuse good riddance adams!

1eyedJack

May 4th, 2012
8:59 am

I will be unable to attend Adams retirement ceremony, but I am going to send a nice letter saying I approve of it.

kingdaddy

May 4th, 2012
9:05 am

Chip T.
I know you felt like you had to give this some ink, but this is one of those “move along people, nothing to see here ” stories. I’m more concerned about who the new president will be, than Dr. No,err I mean Dr. Adams. How about investigate any significant changes in our Not So Special Teams or, investigate why UGA has such a problem getting a quanity of quality offensive linemen? Coach Grantham doesn’t seem to have a problem getting DLs. Could there be a problem with CWFs recruiting practices ? Why are we so slow to react, and yes, I’m aware of our 2012 recruits…

WOW

May 4th, 2012
9:05 am

I don’t understand people criticizing Adams for increasing our academic standing. Harvard of the South would be a good thing.

You hear that from the ‘football only’ fans who care nothing about the university as a whole, only what happens on Saturday. People who have spent time in Athens and have degrees from the place to care about what Dr. Adams accomplished academically. I will say that he could have gone about some of it in a less divisive manner, but the academic successes he took the university to can’t b denied.

kingdaddy

May 4th, 2012
9:15 am

Chip
One more thing, please, please, please don’t leave us with this or any Dr. Adams story for the whole weekend, that would be cruel…

crossdawg

May 4th, 2012
9:16 am

Rally, you need to wander around North Campus & smoke another joint. Adams resignation is sweet music to the Dawg Nation’s ears. GATA

THE Dixie Redcoat Band

May 4th, 2012
9:23 am

Harvard Of The South? Who cares, let’s have a winning football, roundball, baseball and softball team. Come on….

kingdaddy

May 4th, 2012
9:23 am

Wow
I’m sure many of us agree with you B U T, this is a sports blog OK? This has very little to do with sports and would have been fine on the front page of the AJC. Just not the sports section, because very few of us care about him. To dwell on it is counter-productive to a sports blog. Have a good day sir…

collegeballfan

May 4th, 2012
9:34 am

“He and I have always been on the same page about where athletics fits in. It’s part of the university’s fabric but it’s not the most important piece.”

Nice statement of an obvious truth.

Question: did UGA grads attend UGA for an education or to watch a football game? Sometimes by reading here one is left with the impression that folks went to UGA for the football and that education was an afterthought.

But maybe that is the non-grads talking and not the grads. At least one would hope that is the case.

Buckeye

May 4th, 2012
9:53 am

Another home run column and blog.

Norm Wooster

May 4th, 2012
10:11 am

Nothing like revisionist history. Do some research before writing a story sometime. Hack.

George Stein

May 4th, 2012
10:21 am

I don’t understand people criticizing Adams for increasing our academic standing. Harvard of the South would be a good thing.

I can help you there, BobDog.

Most – not all, but most – of the people that hate Adams never attended UGA, which doesn’t make them bad people, but it makes their investment in the school limited to the performance of the athletics program. People who attended UGA are probably thrilled with the higher academic profile of the school because it enhances the value of their degree.

truedawg

May 4th, 2012
10:26 am

All of you saying Adams should have fired Richt etc. and calling out how great of a football coach Dooley was. First Dooley was a classy guy infront of the camera and microphone. Away from it, he was just like Adams, very arrogant. Coach Richt has a better winning percentage than Dooley, and in the 40 years Dooley was in control of the Football at UGA, he won one NT. Dooley was happy to see us drop 3 in a row to the joke by coke. When Richt took over we were always a 4 loss team, and never in any talk to win a SEC title much less the national picture. Adams was the driving force to get Richt, Dooley wanted to keep Donnan. Dooley liked Richt when he couldn’t have Donnan, but make no mistake, Crook Donnan would have been at UGA today if Dooley was still AD!! GO DAWGS!!

JB

May 4th, 2012
10:32 am

this is just my opinion and not a desire to rid UGA of Richt, but if Fla,AU,Bama,LSU,SC,Tenn etc had a coach with 6-7 years of employment at the school, had 2 trending down seasons and then went 6-6 and lost to upstart no name program in a bowl on the heels of the season, Those school President’s would have replaced the coach.

George Stein

May 4th, 2012
10:34 am

If their history is any indication, it takes a lot more than two mediocre seasons to get fired at South Carolina, JB. Let’s not forget that LSU sucked for years and Bama has been through their own ups and downs recently, too.

SKB

May 4th, 2012
10:36 am

I saw we get Jeremy Foley as the new president.

Dr. Phil

May 4th, 2012
10:49 am

Adams supported athletics to the extent that winning football teams were a great source of revenue. much of which found its way into Adams’ personal accounts. Secondly, the football program allowed Adams to entertain members of the Legislature and Sonny Perdue and thus ensure his own tenure.

Gary

May 4th, 2012
10:52 am

Anyone who thinks the focus of the President of the UGA should focus any of his time on a crystal trophy as a measure of success should be embarrassed. Their are 36,000 children on that campus who are looking at a pretty grimm future for job opportunities, home ownership, and simply a general decline in overall quality of life. His only goal which he has done very well is continue to increase the quality of the overall education provided to those students. Making the football fans happy should be on his list right under expanding student parking. This guy has done a great job for the school. I love Georgia football, but the school comes first.

Atticus

May 4th, 2012
10:54 am

Good bye Egomanic Adams. It has nothing to do with Dooley….you are just a divisive a$$ and I am so pleased to be seeing you leave. SO many things you were SO wrong on. SO many people you drove away, don’t let the door hit you in the a$$

KINGDAWG

May 4th, 2012
10:57 am

Makes you want to question the integrity of some of the athletic board (at least Bishop) when they show their outward support of Adams as a leader for firing Donnan( as he should have been). Yet what hypocrisy on Bishop’s part as it is public knowlege of Adams “slush payment” to Donnan which by the way would have gotten most people fired. That so called “leadership” ran all the way to the top as former Board of Regents Chancellor Erroll Davis did nothing. True leadership is doing the right thing in all circumstances.