ATHENS – On the day that Georgia football coach Mark Richt’s protracted contract extension was finally finalized, the Bulldogs took steps to make sure that Greg McGarity remained their athletic director beyond that.
As expected, Richt received a new five-year contract that will extend his agreement with Georgia through the 2016 football season. The new deal — in the works since the second week of this past December — was announced during a special meeting of the Georgia Athletic Association’s executive board, which convened via teleconference call Thursday evening.
What wasn’t expected was UGA President Michael Adams’ announcement that the board had also approved his motion for a two-year contract extension for McGarity through December of 2017. McGarity, Georgia’s AD since August of 2010, also received a salary increase from $460,000 to $500,000 in 2012 and $550,000 in 2013 and beyond.
“I’ve watched him make some tough personnel decisions this spring and have been impressed with how he has handled that as well as the negotiations with the football coach,” said Adams, who will retire as president in June of 2013. “I just felt like it was important for the benefit of the athletic association and the university that we get him locked in at a time that was slightly longer than the head football coach. That would well position the university for any changes that might take place in the future.”
The financial terms of Richt’s new deal stayed basically the same at $2,811,340 per year. However, the Bulldogs doubled Richt’s performance bonuses, meaning an SEC championship would be worth $200,00o to him and a national championship could mean $800,000 extra.
“That’s among the top in college football, if not the top,” McGarity said of the incentives.
The most notable change was the penalty for Richt leaving of his own volition was reduced from $2 million per year under the old agreement to zero under the new deal.
“I think it’s just Greg’s philosophy on the contract,” said Richt, who has been Georgia’s coach since 2001. “It’s not something that I was asking for; it’s something that he had suggested and I said that’d be fine. The bottom line for me is — and I think I’ve been here long enough for everyone to understand this — Georgia is my home, Georgia is where I want to be, Georgia is the only job I’ve ever wanted and that hasn’t changed.”
Conversely, the amount Georgia would owe Richt should they fire him was reduced from $2.4 million per year to $800,000 per year for the three new years on the contract. In other words, UGA would have to pay him $4.8 million if he was fired following the 2012 season ($2.4 for 2013 and $800,000 for each year thereafter). But it would be $800,000 a season beyond 2013.
“My philosophy is life is too short and I don’t think somebody should be anchored down somewhere because of financial concerns,” McGarity said of buyouts. “People are going to twist it and say whatever they want about it. But I’m just telling you the truth about it: Between Mark Richt and myself, there’s no monkey business here. This is an agreement that was reached between us. Mark’s excited about this; I’m excited about it and we’re going to move on from here.”
As for his own extension, McGarity didn’t have much to say.
“I don’t like talking about that,” he said after the board meeting. “It’s awkward for me. I’ve always said it’s an honor and privilege for me to be here as athletic director. I get to come into an environment with a great staff and a great work force that loves what they do. It’s reassuring to know that the president and the board feel confident in the direction we’re moving as a staff.”
Richt is the dean of SEC coaches in terms of being at the same institution for the longest time. He is 106-38 (.736) in 11 seasons at Georgia. He has earned more than $21 million over that period.
“I think it’s an A-plus,” Bob Bishop, UGA’s longest-tenured member of the executive board, said of Richt’s new deal. “I think it’s great. He’s done an excellent job and deserves it.”
Richt said he has tentative plans to celebrate the new deal.
“As soon as Coach [Mark] Fox figures out a date and time, he and I are going to the Waffle House,” Richt quipped. “That was like a month ago but I don’t think he’s forgotten about it and I haven’t either.”
“I feel like a very blessed man,” he added.
NOTE: McGarity said the three-year contract extension for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has been finalized and will be announced on Friday.