North of objectionable, south of pathetic: Michael Adams’ legacy

There’s something about merely raising this question which illustrates what I find offensive about Georgia’s outgoing president’s tenure.  How many schools out there would even have a president in the mix in a discourse about their athletic programs?  You’d think that’s a discussion which would be directed more appropriately at coaches and athletic directors.

But not at Georgia.

I suppose that’s a legacy in and of itself, and it’s an example of the self-aggrandizement which has marked his time in Athens.  But to answer Chip Towers’ question more directly, I’d have to say that even if Michael Adams had otherwise lived the life of a selfless saint, his actions surrounding the hire and enabling of the Harricks and the contemptuous way he cut the kids on the basketball team loose after he could no longer hide from the fallout of the subsequent academic scandal they all created disqualifies him from being considered a worthy leader of the institution from which I claim a degree.

But of course we know that Adams lived a far from selfless existence as Georgia’s president.  He was, at best, a very successful politician who led a university in a controversial way.  Maybe that’s enough for him on which to rest his laurels.

For the rest of us, though, when it’s all said and done, I expect his legacy will be the eternal consideration of a basic question that many have asked for years:  How does Adams still have a job?


UPDATE:  This isn’t too surprising.

Here’s what Dooley said/read:

“First of all, I commend President Adams on his retirement, his service and his contributions to 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.”


Filed under Michael Adams Wants To Rule The World

80 responses to “North of objectionable, south of pathetic: Michael Adams’ legacy

  1. Cojones

    Especially after playing tag team to let Dr “Tommy” Lawhorne’s words drip from conference at a down time for Richt. That didn’t occur in a vacuum.

  2. Scott W.

    Any word on who’s lucky enough to have him next?

  3. Skeeter

    Hopefully he’ll go elsewhere and not retire in Athens and linger around for years flashing his President Emeritus status and continuing to pop up in our alumni newsletters with that jack-o-latern grin.

  4. DawgPhan

    I really dont have the disdain for Adams that many Dawg fans do. He might not have done things the way I would, but the university did take a huge step forward during his tenure. UGA was firmly on the government teet went he took the reigns, at least they attempt to fund raise now.

    • ZeroPointZero

      See Hope Scholarship.

      • Reed Rothchild

        + 3.0. Well played.

      • DawgPhan

        if the only improvements had to be with being more selective then I might agree, but they dont. If you want to argue that other improvements are a function of improve selection, then you would have to make that case.

        • Joe Shmoe

          I guess you would have to specify what other improvements you are talking about. You mention fund raising, and I agree that Adams was clearly obsessed with money. As someone who attended UGA from 2002 – 2006, my sense was and is that Adams was much more concerned with doing things that would improve the image of the University and thereby improve his image (see new building construction) than things that would improve the quality of the education (see leaving teaching positions unfilled). I always felt that Adams didn’t give a crap about the students and ruled from an ivory tower.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Adams taking credit for ANYTHING that happened during that period of time is akin to the rooster taking credit for making the sun come up. Avery apt analogy, I might add, as Adams always struck me as exactly that–a rooster crowing to bring attention to himself.

    • Cojones

      Read a book. Then look up Costa Rica. He’s also not the guy you want behind you at a bus stop. It’s the things he doesn’t take credit for and that don’t make the headlines he lets you read of him. He takes credit for good headlines, but he almost had to have his hand pried off the cookie jar the 4th time he went into it. He wants you to know all about the money he says he is responsible for, but he doesn’t tell you about his cut.

      I find all of that offensive in an avowed academician.

      • gastr1

        It was clear from the very first day who he was and why he was hired. Thank your local Board of Asses–er, Regents–for the money-grubbing crassmaster from the non-academic little school in Kentucky, and hope they don’t do it again this time around.

  5. X-Dawg

    It looks like my donations to the school’s foundation program will pick up now… “now”, I mean next summer.

    • DawgPhan

      bullshit. Everyone has some lame excuse as to why they dont give. Yours is no better.

      • X-Dawg

        Not an excuse. It’s a fact.

        • DawgPhan

          So since Adams has been at UGA you haven’t sent them the first nickel. well except for football tickets, probably. No money to the school you graduated from, no money for the scholarship fund, no money for capital improvements…I am sure all current UGA students are thankful that not everyone is so petty and they get to enjoy all of the niceties that someone else paid for.

          • X-Dawg

            You read a LOT between the lines don’t you? You have no idea what I have done, do and will do with my charitible donations. I’ll tell you the same thing I tell the nice co-ed that calls asking for $$$ each year: “I’M SORRY, BUT AS LONG AS MICHAEL ADAMS IS PRESIDENT OF UGA, I WILL NOT DONATE ANYTHING TO THE UGA FOUNDATION. PLEASE CALL ME THE DAY AFTER HE LEAVES AND I WILL CATCH BACK UP. THANK-YOU!”. I don’t have much clout with the University, but I do have a choice about where I want my donation dollars go. In fact, I have donated to the fund since M. A. has been President. Once I read the book that JG referenced below, I vowed that I would not let that man be enabled with MY hard earned money – as little as it is.

            • Joe

              What He said, ditto:


              • Mayor of Dawgtown

                It is amazing but that is almost a verbatim quote of what I have been saying to UGA fundraisers for years.

          • Joe Shmoe

            This is idiotic. I don’t give money to organizations that I don’t believe will make the best use of it. I haven’t trusted the university to spend money for the benefit of students and alumni since Adams has been at the helm, and therefore I don’t give them any money. Adams is much more focused on self-aggrandizement and I don’t care to fund that.

            • Charles

              No… ^^^^^^THIS is idiotic. Funds can be donated directly to specific programs, departments, schools, etc. Thank Dawg for people who put petty grievances over athletics aside to support academic endeavors at our school (my classmates and I have benefited greatly from scholarships, new facilities, expanded programs, etc.).

              • reipar

                Right like my football money that is donated directly to the athletic department and never touched by the University….oh I forgot that is not correct as the University does get several million dollars from the athletic department every year. When you have a crook in charge funds can and will be mismanaged, comingled, diverted, or any other trick needed.

                Not only do I not give money to the University, but I moved my internship program from UGA to GSU and FSU.

                • Anon

                  I promise you… if you give $100 to the foundation and designate it for, say the ag school or the vet school, that $100 is managed and spent accordingly by the appropriate deans and business offices. They don’t end up in general accounts.

              • If you’re a current student, you really have no frame of reference for the misdeeds most of us hold against Adams. Nearly all the reasons we choose to not give money to the UGA Foundation have nothing to do with the Dooley fiasco (I’m sure some don’t contribute because of that, but my estimate is that they’re in the minority of non-contributors), but rather the findings of the D&T forensic audit in 2003.

                The current incarnation of the UGA Foundation is a merger of the former UGA Foundation and the Arch Foundation. The Arch Foundation was created by Adams in the wake of the findings of abuse through his expense account at the old UGA Foundation when he wanted to distance himself from that disaster. Now that they have merged, people like myself won’t give a dime to the Foundation until we know he can’t stick his hand in the cookie jar.

                And you are right, you can contribute directly to a program. I would know as I contribute directly to the MACc program in the Accounting school. However, X-Dawg specifically cited the Foundation as what he isn’t contributing to, nor will I until Adams is gone.

                • Mayor of Dawgtown

                  It is awfully hard to justify donating money to UGA in any way when its president was squandering it on lavish parties and charter plane rides for himself, his family and others. adams was also notorious for ignoring lines separating entities within the University. He should have been indicted, tried and convicted IMHO. I remember the State Senator who was prosecuted for padding his expense account to the tune of a few thousand dollars. There is no telling how much Adams got away with, yet no action.

              • Joe Shmoe

                As has been said, my grievances are only partially due to his meddling in the athletics programs. They are much more to do with my view that he was not running the university for the good of the students. While I can give to programs directly, Adams will take credit for anything positive that happens at the university and therefore benefits at least indirectly from any funds that I donate. I have minimal influence over who is the president of the school. All I can do is withhold donations to show my displeasure which is what I have chosen to do.

  6. JG Shellnutt

    Read “Behind the Hedges” and you won’t wonder how he has kept his job, you’ll wonder how he has kept from being indicted.

  7. Dawgnoxious

    DawgPhan, the biggest misconception around is that Mike Adams is responsible for UGA’s advancement over the past 20 years. if you want to give credit where it is due, thank Zell Miller for the HOPE scholarship. It’s a lot easier to be selective in admissions when you’re inundated with applications.

    • Joe

      Yep, and a FORTY-FIVE percent + growth in population since 1990 makes that easier.

      • Uncle Ricardo

        I wish more people would take population growth into account when comparing the success of our football program over the years. Many folks like to pretend that in-state football talent has stayed the same.

  8. ZeroPointZero

    I’ve been out of the loop on this. Did a house fall out of the sky and land on Adams?

    • Cojones

      JG Shellnut(8:50) gave the title to the book. Read it or a synopsis and you will be back on here with a few lobbed grenades yourself.

      • Cojones

        More recently: Stop calling TWLOCP, TWLOCP. Cocktails by students? Now what kind of message does that send? We all thought it has been good for us and the program. Not Adams. The only glass he picks up is the donation jar at the cash register.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Nah. Personally Adams is a drinker. Bet on it.

          • Cojones

            Normally, I would think that of anyone who has to entertain in their position. If he was a drinker, there is no way he could be so hypocritical as to not refer to the celebration as a “cocktail party” and ask us all to follow suit.

  9. James

    3 most important things about Adams to me:
    1. He wanted to be a politician, and worked behind the scenes for years for several politicians. However, when he finally ran going for a state house of rep seat he lost (in a big way). Immediately after that he went into education. His reputation has always been his focus on fundraising.
    2. HOPE scholarship was 100% responsible for the academic success UGA has had over his term. I will give him credit him for not screwing it up, but all talent pool and incoming standards immediately shot up the year HOPE was officially rolled out. This course of events has been seen at almost every other state school where lottery funds assist in paying for college.
    3. He was VERY close to being charged for improper use of state funds. He throws himself lavish parties and puts it on the universities tab. Threw a party for his son after he graduated law school and had the school pay for it. He even put his wife on the university payroll.

    I personally have zero respect for the guy, and wish he would have been fired instead of allowed to retire.

  10. Red Clay Hound

    Who do we boo now during homecoming?

  11. High government officials, not elected by nature of their position are more successful keeping their jobs and getting promoted by being shrewd politicians and connected to some powers around than by doing the job right. I HAVE TO DEAL WITH THESE BOZO’S DAILY.

  12. Jrod1229

    Only redeeming thing he did was build UGA up.. not in the way the HOPE scholly did (better students).. but literally build. How many new new buildings came up during his tenure? And thankfully he didn’t copy s. campus (science building, etc.) as a style form and went old school with it.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      South campus buildings were the flavor of the day influenced architecture. Unfortunately! North Campus is a treat.
      “What kind of academic buildings will UGA be designing in the next 30 years? Campus planners say there will be a strong Georgian influence in most everything we do—which will mean pitched roofs and buildings no more than four stories high. That philosophy will be apparent in the new Student Learning Center (letter A at left) and a companion building (B) which will create a new quad in what is now the bookstore parking lot. The Student Learning Center will house 25 classrooms and 2,500 library seats. The $43 million building also includes 100 small group-study areas and will be wired for connectivity to campus networks.

      “North Campus was originally envisioned as a small, residential, liberal arts college, with classic influences that had been around since the time of the Greeks,” says Adam Gross, who learned a great deal about UGA’s architectural history from a master’s thesis written by Tom Bowen (BBA ’71, MEd ’81, EdD ’90), who is now assistant vice president for academic affairs. “But that all changed in the 1950s, when architects thought buildings should be more object-like, should sit in space, and should be defined in relationship to each other rather than to outdoor space.”

      As UGA developed its research and agricultural missions in the 1960s, campus spread to the south and the science complex (physics, geography, chemistry) took on what Gross terms “train-wreck organization” because the buildings are too close together and set at odd angles from each other. “That’s a thing of the past,” says Gross.

  13. Doug

    Yes, it’s true UGA made some great strides while Adams was president, but until someone can point to specific things he did that made that happen, I’m going to stick with “happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

    It’s certainly a lot easier to point to the fuckups for which he was directly responsible (the Harrick hiring, the Costa Rica fiasco, the lavish spending that made one wonder if he was spending more time trying to get on MTV’s “Cribs” than he was actually running the university). In any case, I don’t think we’re going to have to move heaven and earth to find someone who can maintain, if not increase, UGA’s recent successes.

    • Normaltown Mike

      These may not get you excited, but they were all Adams initiatives. Not saying he is the only one but he played a major role in these:
      (1) Medical College in Athens (Augusta is still pissed about this)
      (2) Complex Carbohydrate Research Center has been massively expanded under Adams (considered a top facility in country)
      (3) Expanding the Engineering school in Athens (Tech alum are REALLY pissed about this, which is a plus)

      • Cosmic Dawg

        (2) Complex Carbohydrate Research Center

        I’m not really sure counting that guy selling hot dogs by the cemetary on North Campus is Adams’ doing, whatever fancy name they’re calling it…

        but speaking of which, might I add

        (4) Chick-Fil-A in the student center.

      • Doug

        OK, I’ll give him the medical college. As the son of an M.D. who regularly has to truck all the way across the state (to Augusta, no less) for CE opportunities and meetings and whatnot because that’s where the state’s only public med school is, I’d love for that to take off. Lord knows it’d be easier to attract top med students to the state if we told them they could spend four years learning medicine in Athens rather than having to do it in Augusta.

  14. BulldogBen

    Besides all of the reasons people have posted, his legacy of destroying the tailgate culture on gamedays is a biggie for me. I started UGA the 2 years before he arrived and RV’s could still get in on Friday and park any just about any lot. People who got to campus early, got whatever spots they wanted. It was an all weekend festival atmospshere.

    Cut to present day and any parking spot even remotely close to the stadium will cost you $1500+, most parking deck passes are gone in July, and you can set up anything until 5 hours before kickoff.

    Crying ass shame and the next guy won’t reverse any of it because it’ll be viewed as being an enabler to “partying”.

    • Anon

      You’re going to need to talk with the Athletic Association about that, BB. Their moneygrabs are more than partially to blame for your lack of ability to get funky. Pay to play.

      • Terrapin Ale

        Great but they have nothing to do with destroying the atmosphere on North Campus.

  15. BulldogBen

    I also agree with the folks who cite HOPE being the bigger factor for raised standards vs Adams influence. As far as building being built, who is to say that if someone else had been there that wouldn’t have been accomplished also and with less shadiness than what Adams brought to the office.

    HOpefully we’ll get an academic/fundraiser and not a politician this go ’round.

    • JAX

      I don’t want an “academic”. We have plenty of those in place now. See Sumachrast at the Terry College. Give us a business guy with appreciation for academics who will run the school as one would run any successful large corporation.

  16. JAX

    Adams stepped in and fired Donnan when Dooley wanted to keep him for another year. That was a bold call, took leadership and guts, and it has panned out. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re not.

    And look, I’m no fan of Adams in that I think he’s always hustling something or someone, but to label him a failure b/c “he was here at the right time” is shallow. Half the world’s successful political and business leaders would be failures under that stricy definition.

    I tend to think that Adams had his own style, it worked for some and alienated others. So be it. UGA is a better University now that when he got here. In the end, he will be remembered for that.

    ***note to incoming President – don’t screw up the football program. It’s arguably the most important economic driver the school has.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      There was something about a golf game and a severance ck for Donnan… wasn’t there?

    • Adams stepped in and fired Donnan when Dooley wanted to keep him for another year. That was a bold call, took leadership and guts, and it has panned out. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re not.

      It also didn’t hurt that Adams had a $250k side-deal with Donnan that the athletic association was unaware of that ended up basically being Donnan’s severance check. Even in a decision that ultimately ended up being the right call, there had to be a level of seediness to it. That’s the way I’ll always remember the man.

  17. Bulldog Joe

    He’s here for another 13 months. Same as it ever was.

  18. Will Trane

    Adams did some things well, but for me the University and its athletic programs are not where they need to be. I think he has past his ability to move the University and its programs forward. The University needs a new president. It is time.
    Likewise I think McGarity has done some good things, but he does not seem to be moving the programs forward.
    The yardstick I use is how well the men’s big three have done in the recent years. Only last year did the football team seem to move forward, but you have to wonder considering how it closed out the season. In basketball and in baseball UGA’s programs are fair. Look where they rank and stack up with the other men’s big three programs in the SEC and to a degree to ACC teams located next to this state.
    The programs are not improving.
    Universities are awash in money. The federal government has rolled out trillions of dollars in student loans and the state has done so with the lottery. A few decades ago those funds were not there.
    The hire of CMR was very good. But sometimes CMR does not push his staff and players. The hire of Evans was very bad, and it did not take long for that to materialize, like Harrick. The coaching ability and performance of Fox and Perno are indicators of what the AD is about now.
    And just maybe some of those on the athletic board need to retire and let someone else have input.

    • So…use one short paragraph to talk about the subject at hand and the rest to keep spewing the same tired argument you’ve been making here the last few weeks about how UGA’s athletic department is not committed to winning?

      I get the comparison you’re making, but I believe most of us that carry degrees from UGA (not insinuating you don’t) aren’t really evaluating Adams based on his interactions with the athletic department. I’m not sure how that comparison is even relevant to this conversation. I’m pissed off that I have the signature of a guy that grossly abused University expense accounts on my two degrees, not that he didn’t push the athletic department hard enough to be committed to winning. Of course, YMMV.

  19. Normaltown Mike

    Not an Adams fan, but thought I’d share some “inside baseball”

    (1) Adams works for the state of Georgia in a general sense.
    (2) To be specific, Adams works for the Regents.
    (3) Governors appoint Regents.
    (4) Adams has been at UGA for Gov’s Zell, Roy, Sonny & Nathan and a host or Regents.
    (5) Adams has a public persona that is caustic and infuriating to rank and file Dawg fans.
    (6) Adams has kept his job for a long time.

    Confused? Revisit #’s 2-4 and draw your conclusions.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Sonny was Adams protector for 8 of the years Adams was there. Don’t lump Nathan (a Mercer guy) in with Sonny or the others. Nathan has been Governor 1 year. Adams is now leaving. I don’t want to add 1+1 and come up with 3 but at minimum Sonny going out of office has something to do with Adams’ departure.

    • DCB Dawg

      You are underestimating Adams’ personal relationship with Leeburn as to why and how he has held on for so long.

  20. hassan

    Certainly, there is a lot of controversy around his tenure. But like most politicians (as an analogy), the hate over one aspect of his career overshadows the positives. I too consider the Harrick hire, the Dooley fire, and the financial issues in the D&T forensic audit suspect behavior. However, the campus development plans and the initiatives that Normaltown Mike outlined are all legitimate positives on the resume.

    Objectively speaking, where does all of that put him as a body of work?

  21. Cojones

    Right next to the bus. Stepping in front of him now would not be good.

  22. Cojones

    I hope a former UGA grad that is not a political hack comes in to take over. Academics should always be #1 on any incoming President’s plate. Promoting the University nationally/internationally through our academic honors and traditions can be done by advertising our athletic programs to attract a diverse international student body.

    Personally, I’d prefer if we look long and hard at female alums. One with big boobs to help cheer our football team onward should do. That means we probably will have to clip and file Uga’s nails and do something about his breath before the Collaring Ceremony. Additionally, we could wrap foam rubber around her legs before he lubricates them.

  23. tired of the Dooley family

    Way to go Vince. Keep grinding that axe.

    • tired of the Seiler family

      agree, enough is enough. Please remove yourself from the spotlight and take the Seilers with you. And Loran while you’re at it. Time for a generational cleansing.

      • Cojones

        It ain’t the Seilers. Georgia can choose their mascot from anywhere. I don’t like the delay in naming UgaVIII anymore than telling me the coaches contracts only needed the “i”s dotted and the “t”s crossed two month ago. Something ain’t right.

      • tired of the Dooley family


  24. 79dawg

    The fact that the question asked by the Urinal&Constipation was even asked is, in and of itself, an indictment of this hypocritcal self-promoter.

    Among the faculty, politicians and his buddies in academia, he pretends to be Mr. Academic, sports must be subordinate to academics, tailgating must be stamped out, we can’t talk about alcohol (except to enforce prohibition), etc….

    On the other hand, he’s constantly meddling in athletics, pushing out our long-time AD (which was probably needed), forcing him to hire his buddy Harrick (which resulted in a scandal – in my estimation – almost as embarrassing as the Jan Kemp stuff), hiring an AD who would be his lackey (which also helped so he could tell his buddies he was into diversity), etc. But guess who goes to every away football game, yucks it up on the field before the games like he owns the place, is the first one in the locker room to bask in the glory, and is beholden to a liquor distributor for protection? (Imagine what woudl have happened if you or I put a logo of the Arch on anything, much less a wine bottle!).

    In hindsight, Adams’ tenure in Athens has been marked by constantly being in the right place at the right time. He was appointed towards the end of Zell’s second term, right as the HOPE scholarship was kicking into high gear. He managed not to screw up too much during Roy’s first term (avoiding the the ire of the King), and cozied up to Sonny (probably our worst governor in modern Georgia history, which is saying something), enabling him to ride out the subsequent storms. I have no doubt that if Roy had won a second term, Adams would have been long, long ago. (Not to mention the most biggest stroke of luck of all, Rich Whitt’s death just as his book was published, thereby ensuring almost zero media attention to the findings in his book).

    I too will miss the opportunity to boo Adams every homecoming, but will welcome the opportunity to contribute financially to my schools again. Of course, I fear that Deal will appont another political hack as President of the University (and probably one from Gainvesville for that matter….).

  25. Dawgaholic

    Wow, all these comments and no one has mentioned all the department heads and deans he replaced with “his people.”

  26. Aligator

    What kind of jackass pushes Vince Dooley out the door… Michael Adams thats who!