When it comes to Georgia putting its money where its mouth is concerning player academics, there’s a delicious combination of butt-hurt (George Mason University professor of public policy James Finkelstein: “If the team wins, why shouldn’t the professors get a bonus?”) and ass covering (McGarity told the AJC earlier that the academic targets “are difficult to achieve.”) in this piece about Kirby Smart’s bonus package.
For all the lip service about academics – and you can guess the source of that without breaking much of a sweat…
UGA athletics officials were not available Wednesday, but Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Matt Kempner asked athletic director Greg McGarity earlier what message is conveyed by academics being such a small part of Smart’s potential pay.
It shows “an emphasis on academics is an essential part of the expectations of a head coaches’ responsibility, and there are rewards for going above and beyond what is expected,” McGarity texted.
Helping players do well academically is a “top priority,” he added.
… the reality is that, like so many things under McGarity’s watch, academics for the football program have been in a state of decline.
Former coach Mark Richt’s deal called for a $50,000 academic performance bonus, too. That bonus was based on the football team’s average grade point average matching or besting UGA’s average undergraduate GPA.
Smart’s bonus is tied to a slightly different measure: the team ranking in the top third among SEC schools for graduation rates and academic eligibility measures.
UGA football’s academic performance today is far short of the top third ranking Smart would need to earn the academic bonus. In fact, UGA football’s academic ranking relative to other SEC football teams has actually dropped over time.
That’s what $50,000 gets you these days, I suppose. Now the article is smart enough to concede that even a huge bonus to a head coach based on player academics wouldn’t necessarily solve the matter (although you’d have to think it might cause more attention to be paid in that direction) and could open up an incentive to cheat.
But no matter. Because what it really illustrates is that once you get past the threshold of eligibility, academics are low on the priority list. The people who pushed McGarity to replace Richt don’t care about GPA nearly as much as they do about CFP – and Smart’s bonus package reflects that.
In other words, the Georgia Way isn’t more removed from sausage making than any other big time football program is.