Getting what you pay for: academics and Georgia football

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.

Six years ago, UGA had the second highest academic progress ratein the conference. Today, it’s number nine. UGA’s NCAA graduation rate puts it seventh among SEC schools.

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.


Filed under Academics? Academics., Georgia Football

37 responses to “Getting what you pay for: academics and Georgia football

  1. SAtownDawg

    Honestly surprised and somewhat disappointed by this….the one area where I thought the Athletic Department and football program was doing somewhat well…


  2. The donors who pushed GM don’t care one bit about the graduation rate. They want their picture with a CFP trophy because their rich Bama friends have one. Senator, you’re right about academics – most coaches only care whether they maintain eligibility not whether they are progressing toward a degree worth the paper it’s written on.


    • @eethomaswfne: Here here on that. Plus infinity. Also, they can no longer talk bout better academics and graduation rates to soothe their ego. Run home to mommy, “I want a picture too”.


  3. JAX

    The first thought that comes to my mind after reading this is “no shit”.

    If you want to be Virginia then go emulate them and accomplish that. If you want to win a football championship, like every Georgia football fan does, then you’re going to have to make some concessions about academics. For those that want both, dont hold your breath.

    As for the comments about the “big donors”, you’re damn right they want to see the team they love and support win it all. What on earth makes our “big donors” distinct from those supporting other schools?

    So many of you wouldn’t be happy if you weren’t so busy whining.


    • Not whining at all just stating what it is all about–agree with you–but I am not whining. If UGA wins a championship, fine by me, if they don’t, fine by me


    • Gaskilldawg

      JAX, I am an oddball UGA fans because I believe that college football team should be, as a part of the University, reflect the overall goals of the University. Academic achievement is part of the University’school purpose.

      The NFL is the “championships are everything and everything else is nothing. ”

      I want my university to strive to be like Stanford, not Alabama.

      I am not holding my breath since I have lost that battle. My view is the minority and the “Championship are all that count” segment is the majority and the victors.

      Be aware that this is am not making a value distinction. You view istory no worse than mine and mine is no better than yours; the views are just different.


      • Gaskill, this is my point of view as well. I would be very happy to see our university win a national championship, but I also think academic achievement is important. The Stanford model looks a lot more attractive to me than the SEC West model. This is exactly why I thought if we were going to make a change, we should have backed up a Brinks truck in front of David Shaw’s house.


      • Yes that battle is lost. Guess I should just go 30 miles down the road and tour Tuscaloosa. Yes no value distinction, just a different view.


      • Chadwick

        Sorry to disappoint, but Stanford is in the sausage making business too. If you look at football player majors and their incoming scores versus the general population and you’ll find the grinder. If the university really wanted to marry athletics and academics they would be running a D3 football team.


        • Gaskilldawg

          You side not disappoint, because your point did not address my desire. I know Stanford has football players who could not be admitted if they were not athletes. Stanford does have higher admission standards for football players than Alabama.

          I also know that Stanford is serious about its football players succeeding in the classroom.

          If your position is that Alabama places the same value on academics as Stanford you are mistaken.


  4. Semper Fi Dawg

    It’s really just playing with house money. Why not offer a million dollar bonus and look like you give a damn about academics knowing they will never achieve it. Wow, the AD really needs a better PR firm behind him.


  5. Bulldog Joe

    Like COA, academic performance numbers are manipulated at many institutions. Apples and oranges.

    A true metric would be meeting APR requirements, then improving performance vs. previous UGA classes.


  6. JT (the other one)

    Things really reminds me of Saddam Hussien and “I don’t have milk for the children” because of sanctions and bombings…just feels that way…


  7. W Cobb Dawg

    I’m curious about how difficult it is to get in UGA vs. the other sec schools. Over here in west Cobb, seems most h.s. kids would love to be accepted by UGA. But only the absolute top students are accepted. I’ve known several kids who’s 2nd or 3rd choices were bama, aubie, ut, etc. – and it seems they were accepted without much trouble. Now, this isn’t a formal survey of kids, just what I’m hearing year after year as these young ‘uns matriculate to college. With that in mind, I wouldn’t expect our athletic programs to beat the average, in our case above average, student.


    • AthensHomerDawg

      Good point. I was thinking along the same lines. Just how many high school football players care about preparing for the academic rigor that they will face when they get to Georgia? Im guessing their biggest focus is on the gridiron and our biggest focus is to keep them on that gridiron once they get here.


    • 1smartdude

      As usual, it’s about money. My daughter was a honor graduate and was turned down at UGA, two of her cousins, living just across the state line, with a worse GPA and test scores were accepted in the same class year. In essence, they get more money from out of state tuition. I think your sample shows the same thing in reverse. $$$$$


  8. TXBaller

    Richtophiles beat the drum til the final hours of: clean program, GRADUATES HIS PLAYERS, good man, blah, blah, blah….. and now this nugget of decline is made public. Why is the accountability shifted suddenly to McGarity when ‘Philes took all the credit in recent years?

    Nice S&G Sausage Making plug….


  9. Scorpio Jones, III

    It might be constructive to note early departures for jobs in the NFL Business impact graduation rate. Or maybe I missed that in the story.


  10. Tronan

    Maybe all of this fits under the “No Shit” category but here goes:

    Regardless of school – UGA, Stanford, UVA, Vandy – football and basketball recruits are held to much lower academic standards than the average incoming student. This doesn’t change once they’re players. If they happen get good grades in respectable majors, great. If not, it’s highly unlikely administrators and coaches – or players themselves – lose any sleep over it. At big time programs, players aren’t there because they’re scholars. The goals is for them to remain academically eligible; if putting the majority of them in Basket Weaving 101 is what it takes, then that’s where they’ll wind up.

    Coaches aren’t evaluated and compensated on how many Fulbright scholars are on their teams. Teams are supposed to generate revenue (which is easier to do if they’re successful on the field). Any talk to the contrary at any FBS school is lip service.


  11. 81Dog

    I don’t want UGA to be Vandy or Virginia, athletically or otherwise. I just don’t want us to be Auburn or Tennessee or Alabama, athletically or otherwise. It isn’t an NFL franchise. It’s a college, and it doesn’t have to be a snob academic enclave to be something UGA alums and students can view with pride. It just has to be a school for the state of Georgia. Same thing for the athletic program. It doesn’t have to be an outlaw, under the table, win at all costs outfit. Try convincing the rich guys who want to see themselves in the picture with the NC trophy, though. If being the Oakland Raiders of the 70s is what it takes, I’m really not interested.


  12. South FL Dawg

    Next thing they’ll be writing about having tutors. Sheesh. Getting past the NCAA minimums is a precursor to a title but going beyond isn’t. Whether that’s coming in right at 85 scholarship recruits or whatever the minimum graduation rate is….it’s all the same. Just meet the wording of the rules on those things; where it’s important to go beyond is on the field. I thought we all knew that already.


  13. TnDawg

    CMR days are over boys.

    As a proud UGA hat and hoodie wearer, I can tell you we don’t care about education. Football is about rings and trophies, not people.

    I know I speak for all of the flask-smuggling Bulldawg nation when I tell you we don’t care if our boyz are sniffing coke off a hooker’s ass with Mike Irvin and sound like Rickey Henderson and Mike Tyson’s illegitimate butt-clone bastard.

    Just get me a new NC hat for Gawd sakes!