UPDATED: UGA gymnastics coach Jay Clark resigns after third year

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.

JAY CLARK:

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.”

GREG McGARITY:

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]

121 comments Add your comment

Vance Duly

May 4th, 2012
6:02 pm

He’s been a loyal Dawg…. best wishes to him.

LakeDawg

May 4th, 2012
6:02 pm

An assistant following a legend rarely works out. Good luck to Jay Clark in his future endeavors and his time at UGA is greatly appreciated.

Vince

May 4th, 2012
6:04 pm

Its always impossible to follow a legend. I’m sure coach Clark gave it the best he could–and its certainly appreciated. Where can we find another treasure like Youcalan?

Never follow a legend

May 4th, 2012
6:19 pm

True. Never do it. Now…Jay reapply for the job and you’ll start winning.

Ol' Timer

May 4th, 2012
6:19 pm

He’ll land on his feet.

KDawg

May 4th, 2012
6:26 pm

I’m not sure there is anyone who could fill Suzanne Yoculan’s shoes. Best of luck to Jay for everything he has given to UGA.

mvdawg

May 4th, 2012
6:26 pm

Thank you Jay for all the hard work over the years. Wish you and your family the best in the future.
God bless

Allen

May 4th, 2012
6:28 pm

Good luck and best wishes to Jay Clark. Happy to see McGarity not satisfied with anything less than the best . . . wish we could find another Yoculan. On another front, I appreciate what Andy Landers has done historically, but we need a new women’s basketball coach to bring us championships, too. Andy has rested on his laurels for too long now.

The Masked Superstar

May 4th, 2012
6:28 pm

Goff found out the same thing when he followed Vince. Jay you did the best you could and we cannot argue that. Following Suzanne was a tough, tough act to follow. Thanks for being a loyal DAWG.

Andrew

May 4th, 2012
6:29 pm

He had huge shoes to fill. I wish Suzanne Yoculan would consider coming out of retirement. Thanks for giving it a shot Jay and good luck!

Boca Baby

May 4th, 2012
6:31 pm

Even though it is a non-revenue sport, he took over a program which had won six straight national championships. He had been competitive but he is no Suzanne Yoculan. I have been wondering how long this would go before they cut him loose.

Boca Baby

May 4th, 2012
6:33 pm

Oops. Only five straight NC’s. But what is one when you are counting that high.

Andy M.

May 4th, 2012
6:36 pm

Manny Diaz has done more than ok following Dan Magill with Men’s Tennis

Hurt Kurbstreit

May 4th, 2012
6:36 pm

Maybe Suzanne Yoculan misses the action and would be willing to come back. She’s the best coach that UGA has ever had.

Lexi

May 4th, 2012
6:42 pm

Last I heard GA Gymnastics was a revenue sport (along with football and men’s basketball). Perhaps things changed there too when Coach Yoculan retired.

Sad.

Paddy

May 4th, 2012
6:50 pm

Since I have never attended a gymnastic event at UGA, how much do they charge for admission to the events? Does it provide enough $ to cover the cost of the sport? is it a high profit sport? Just curious!

Dawg Alum

May 4th, 2012
6:52 pm

Lexi,
When Suzanne was at UGa……you could not get tickets for many meets. Only football filled more seats. P.S. Hopefully it was a revenue sport!!!

Snoop Dawg

May 4th, 2012
6:54 pm

Who has any confidence that UGA’s women’s gymnastics program isn’t in a freefall to the bottom of the sea? After running off Suzanne Yoculan becuase of her boyfriend. Sick.

Dawglasville

May 4th, 2012
6:56 pm

He had huge shoes to fill. Thanks for your hard work and good luck.

Snoop Dawg

May 4th, 2012
6:57 pm

Please bring back Suzanne Yoculan. I am not interested in her personal life. Most of these Bible Belt types are the biggest hypocrites walking on Planet Earth.

george

May 4th, 2012
6:58 pm

how about a female coach for a female sport? If women are unqualified to coach men because they “haven’t played the game” (although gino auriemma never played womens basketball) then let’s find a coach who actually competed on the balance beam, uneven bars, etc. go dawgs, but they better hire someone who can recruit because competition in the sec is fierce!

Snoop Dawg

May 4th, 2012
6:59 pm

When is McCavity going to replace Richt, Fox, Landers, Perno, and the other losers getting overpaid with has-been mediocre programs? Maybe the new university president will fire McGarrity too.

Snoop Dawg

May 4th, 2012
6:59 pm

McGarrity is making Damon Evans look pretty good these days…

Bama boy

May 4th, 2012
7:00 pm

Maybe Richt will go back to Miami And Fox wherever

Old guy

May 4th, 2012
7:01 pm

First look should go to one of our All-Americans in gymnastics. A protege of Yoculan might be another Manny Diaz of tennis.
Many thanks to Coach Clark for his many contributions to UGA.

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can stop it

May 4th, 2012
7:09 pm

Todd Grantham could take over for him. He can do anything… except stop ranked offenses.

Beast from the East

May 4th, 2012
7:13 pm

It will be interesting to hear what actually happened. Was he run off or did he land another gig? Maybe he was caught TRYING to land another job? I know he did not have the success that Suzanne did, but let’s b honest…who else in the country has? No one!

uga_alum_93

May 4th, 2012
7:16 pm

Needed to happen…I hope Landers is close behind.

SKB

May 4th, 2012
7:17 pm

+1 McGARITY
Setting standards

Mr. GymnasticsFan

May 4th, 2012
7:17 pm

Um… I suppose two National individual titles (on beam and floor) mean nothing; granted, the team faltered on beam during preliminaries; it’s four inches wide.

And, ps, about men coaching this sport; I think that is a testament to these women athletes knowing that their coach’s gender doesn’t matter. I’d applaud a qualified woman to coach a men’s basketball team, but we’ll never see it.

sheepdawg

May 4th, 2012
7:17 pm

lets all hope cmr is next for the sake of the university and state

drew

May 4th, 2012
7:20 pm

Does anyone hate the new design of the AJC online as much as I DO !
Kinda hard to read anything with all these moving parts….
Oh yeah…Go Dawgs : )

Eddie

May 4th, 2012
7:25 pm

Sheepdawg, 1953dawg and Snoop Dawg—you are morons and that is being kind. What can you say about the bammer fans lurking as usual–sad really.

gt4ever

May 4th, 2012
7:30 pm

UGA is a complete JOKE…. I guess coach richt is next…… I mean the AD measures success by SEC championships and NCAA championships…

Dawg89

May 4th, 2012
7:34 pm

drew, yes I hate the new ajc “toolbar”. I have cut back on how much I visit the ajc site because of it. I wish all users would complain in hopes that it will be removed.

Snoop Dawg

May 4th, 2012
7:44 pm

Eddie, you are the odd man out here– and a blind homer embecile!

Concerned

May 4th, 2012
7:50 pm

Women’s Gymnastics has never been close to making money. The reason Men’s basketball makes money and Women’s Gymnastics doesn’t (even though the attendance is usually higher) is because of the enormous TV contracts for SEC basketball and the money received from the SEC office for the NCAA tournament.

duronimo

May 4th, 2012
7:59 pm

Apparently there is a higher standard for gymnastics than for football. It’s not like his teams are not competitive. He and his wife are good, loyal people and should be given a bit more time.

Who Me?

May 4th, 2012
8:12 pm

GM has been here since Aug. 2010, not quite 2 years. I don’t think we’re going to throw the baby out with the bathwater and make wholesale changes inside of the first 2 years he’s been on staff. He’s just now starting to understand all the programs in his domain, expect to see more of this later in the year – like after baseball season is done for example….

Big time?? Not

May 4th, 2012
8:22 pm

1953 dawg …….bitter party of one. Your table is ready.

jsmooth

May 4th, 2012
8:38 pm

1953 dawg- Man, you are really hard up. Are your shorts to tight? Man, your anger and bitterness is going to put you in a early grave. Chill out and enjoy life.

Lakedawg

May 4th, 2012
8:42 pm

1953 dawgs–You sir are the complete idiot in this conversation.

Not sure how many gymnastics contests you have attended, but believe as a 15 year season ticket holder I have a better perspective than you.

Jay and Julie gave their all to this pprgram and are both DGD. However with outstanding talent the Dawgs choked consistently under any pressure, most evident by this year. I wish them both the best in the future, but change was due.

Landers has a top 5 class coming in and if no improvement over 2nd round eliminations in SEC and National tournament then change is dur there.

Perno should go after this year period.

53 where you are completely wrong is Mens BB and football. Will acceot your apologies for both after this season.

The Masked Superstar

May 4th, 2012
8:48 pm

Courtney Kupets, arguably the best NCAA Gymnast ever, is cooling her heels as a Volunteer Coach on the Gymnastics team. Why not give this young lady a shot as she is to Georgia Gymnastics what Herschel Walker is to Georgia Football. Don’t let her youth fool you, as I recall Suzanne wasn’t much older when she took over and we know what she did.

GuessWhoGoesNext

May 4th, 2012
8:48 pm

Andy Landers will be shown the door soon. His time has come.

NCDawg

May 4th, 2012
8:49 pm

God what sad sacks of s%&t populate these boards! A guy just decided to walk away from his job or was going to lose it and was given the grace of being able to resign and you come on here ragging him and the AD about it. Our society has a deficit of decency for sure. Those of you with nothing better to do than come on these boards and complain and run people into the ground need a spiritual enema. It takes a special kind of bum to use such an occasion to vent their vitriol about freaking athletics. If you are one of the aforementioned and do not feel any shame then God help you.
Jay Clark had the unfortunate job of following a legend. That is a heck of first head coaching job. Yoculan was the Pat Summit of gymnastics. What she accomplished is outrageous. Asking a first time head coach to follow up on that is really not fair. It will be interesting to see who is pegged for the job. Maybe there is an up and comer out there that we don’t know about. Good luck Jay! You are DGD.

Don

May 4th, 2012
8:53 pm

GymnasticsFan

May 4th, 2012
9:54 pm

I believe you are mistaken about Kupets working as a volunteer coach with the Gymdogs.

ga gator

May 4th, 2012
10:16 pm

He probably felt like Ron Zook felt from Day 1 and the way Muschamp will feel if he has another year like 2011. McGarrity learned from Foley; Championships are the goal, end of story.

King Gator

May 4th, 2012
10:36 pm

Next strength coach for the FB Dawgs!

Loyal Supporter

May 4th, 2012
10:51 pm

For all of those who have so much to say, is it asking too much that one speaks from a position of fact rather than fiction? Jay and Julie Clark have been an inspiration to so many in their endeavors to build the Georgia gymnastics program into a positive, moral establishment. College athletics is a rollar coaster. Anyone experienced in elite athletics would know that between successful programs, there are rebuilding years involved. Jay and Julie were not given enough time to prove their ability to make the program a success once again. Jay’s recruiting history and experience helped provide the tools and success for the ten national championships under Suzanne Yoculan. He was put under a lot of pressure coming from such a successful program, and certainly deserved to be given more time. Their absence from UGA, after all they have given to the school, coaching, and the community will be greatly missed. Bad move McGarity, I think there is more to this story than meets the eye.