Following is the (uncut) news story I filed for the newspaper on the resignation of gymnastics coach Jay Clark. You should note the comments from Gym Dogs coaching legend Suzanne Yoculan, who said “anything could happen” when asked if she’d consider coming back from retirement. You should also note that McGarity said “I don’t think so” when asked if they’d consider her a candidate. Below the story is the actual news release cirulated by UGA at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, and then the comments I got from Clark and McGarity. . . .
ATHENS – Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity has often said that he judges the Bulldogs’ coaches on SEC championships and NCAA postseason performances. Georgia gymnastics coach Jay Clark on Friday felt the wrath of that philosophy as he resigned just three years after succeeding legendary coach Suzanne Yoculan.
Clark met with Athletic Director Greg McGarity Friday afternoon and tendered his resignation in person at some point during that meeting. Clark, who was Yoculan’s top assistant for 17 years before she retired, has two years remaining on his contract.
Asked if he had an opportunity to return for another season, Clark said: “I resigned. At this point I don’t have a lot to say beyond that.”
McGarity was equally mum when reached by telephone shortly after the news release was sent out at
“I can’t really say anything else,” said McGarity, who has been on the job for 18 months. “I’ll let the release stand for itself.
McGarity did say the search for Clark’s successor “begins immediately. We’re going over names and things of that nature as we speak.”
Clark was working for Yoculan while the Bulldogs won most of their 10 national championships, including five straight before Yoculan retired following the 2009 season. Under Clark, the Gym Dogs had three third-place finishes in the SEC, missed the NCAA Championships one year and finished ninth and 11th in the other two.
“We’re expected to win championships and we wanted to,” Clark said. “I’m sure the program will do well. I want every recruit that’s on board now to come here and I think every elite prospect in the country should want to come here.”
Yoculan was not happy to hear the news. “Nothing in athletics surprises me,” she said via text message.
Asked if she’d consider coming out of retirement, she replied: “Anything can happen.”
Unless, Yoculan comes back, Georgia will have to completely retool its gymnastics staff. Clark’s assistants include his wife, Julie Ballard Clark, and longtime Yoculan aide Doug McAvinn.
Nevertheless, Clark said he harbors no ill will toward his alma mater.
“I’ve been here a long time and I love the University with all my heart,” Clark said. “Since I graduated it’s the only place I’ve worked. We’ve been part of some great things since we’ve been here and I’m honored to be a part of it. I’ll always be a Dawg, I’ve always loved this place and I always will.”
UGA’S OFFICIAL RELEASE:
University of Georgia head gymnastics coach Jay Clark has resigned his position effective immediately according to an announcement Friday by UGA Director of Athletics Greg McGarity.
Clark took over the program three years ago after serving 17 years as an assistant on the Gym Dogs’ staff including five as associate head coach.
“I have accepted Jay’s resignation and want to express our appreciation to him for his many significant contributions to our program over a long period of time,” said McGarity. “Our gymnastics program has always been a source of pride for the Athletic Association and Jay has conducted the program in an admirable manner during his years of service to UGA. We certainly wish him the very best in his future endeavors. We’ll move as quickly as possible to begin the process of finding the best possible head coach to lead our program.”
“It’s been an honor and privilege to be at the University of Georgia,” said Clark, who first joined the staff in 1990. “I love the University of Georgia and treasure my time here.”
Clark’s teams finished third at the SEC Championships in 2010, 2011, and 2012, and posted national finishes of tied for 2nd at the 2010 NCAA Regional, tied for 9th at the 2011 NCAA Championships, and 11th at the recent 2012 NCAA Championships.
On whether he was surprised . . .
“I think a lot of people may be.”
On his reaction . . .
“Right now my general comment is I’ve been here a long time and I love the University with all my heart. Since I graduated it’s the only place I’ve worked. We’ve [he and wife/assistant coach Julie Ballard Clark] have been part of some great things since we’ve been here. I’m honored to be a part of it and I’ll always be a Dawg. I’ve always loved this place and I always will.”
On reasons for resignation . . .
“We’re expected to win championships and we wanted to. I’m sure the program will do well. I want every recruit that’s on board now to come here and I think every elite prospect in the country should want to come here.”
On the expectations of UGA leadership . . .
“I have the utmost respect for Greg McGarity and the leadership over there.”
On reasons for Clark’s resignation . . .
“I cant’ say anything. I’ll the the release stand.”
On search for successor . . .
“It begins immediately. We’re going over names and things of that nature as we speak.”
On threshold of success for UGA’s coaches . . .
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to talk about that right now, but you can refer some of my old quotes about that.” [McGarity has always said he judges coaches on SEC championships and NCAA postseason performances]