I’m not sure this story has gotten as much attention as it perhaps deserves, in part because the major thrust of it seems to be about restricting colleges in Georgia from adding sports programs or changing competition levels, but it’s worth noting that the state Board of Regents has decided it wants to get in the athletic department budget management business, too.
Moving forward, the University System of Georgia will periodically review athletic programs for “financial and program soundness.” There will also be annual audits of separately incorporated athletic associations. It’s too soon to say what will happen to programs found to have financial problems.
Huckaby said the policy shows the board’s commitment to making sure the money students, donors and others provide is used properly.
“Used properly” is one of those eye-of-the-beholder standards. I’m guessing that Hank Huckaby and Mark Richt aren’t always going to agree on how athletic department moneys will be spent, and that’s going to be tough luck for Mark Richt. Of course he’s not going to hear about it directly from the regents, because they’ll use the school presidents as their cutoffs. Which is why I tend to discount Bernard, Jr.’s bow to academics and expect there’s something, um, more political behind this.
Georgia is one of the few fortunate schools making money off its athletics. In an era when its new president is sensitive to money issues resulting from less and less public support for the university system as time goes by, siphoning off some of those profits that football generates sure could come in handy. And that’s something I doubt the BOR has missed.
Maybe I’m getting too far ahead of things here. But at a minimum, it’ll be worth keeping a close eye on this over the next few years, especially since prospects for Georgia’s athletic department to continue as a golden goose look ever stronger.