For those of you who think I’ve been a little too negative, a little too obsessive about Georgia’s athletic department and its seeming lack of appreciation for the majority of the fan base, here’s a dose of reality for you:
For years, Georgia’s head football and basketball coaches used to go on an extensive spring speaking tour, answering questions and shaking hands with fans who paid a small fee at the door.
Those days of extensive touring around Georgia appear to be over. At least for now.
The university has planned five events this spring featuring Kirby Smart, but they will be private donor events – and for now only one will be in the state of Georgia…
In the past, Georgia football and basketball coach did as many as 12 spring tour stops, almost all in the state, from Columbus to Macon to Augusta and even smaller stops. But those tours have gradually dissipated:
In Mark Richt’s final year, he only went to seven stops. Last year Smart went to five stops, though four of the were in-state, the exception being a donor event in Dallas.
This year it’s going all-private, which someone with knowledge said evolved from Smart coming in with a new approach, and UGA wanting to do fundraising. There’s a feeling they don’t need the old model, where fans get a chance to hear from coaches and ask them questions, because of social media and other factors. Crowds at these events had also been going down. [Emphasis added.]
“The university is trying to be strategic to generate the money that everybody needs to generate right now,” McGarity said. “The purpose of these events have changed, they’ve morphed over the years.”
And you thought Butts-Mehre couldn’t think strategically about anything. When it comes to shaking the money tree as efficiently as possible, these guys make the Boy Scouts’ proverbial preparedness look lackadaisical. Unfortunately, we fans get in the way of the new order. The less time Smart has to deal with us, the more time he has for fundraising and recruiting, which is all that truly matters to the program now.
Have no fear, though, they’ve got plans for dealing with the rest of us, too.
The athletics department did seem to anticipate some fan blowback.
“As for our donors, I realize there may be some sensitivity to the majority of the events being out of state this year,” associate athletics director for development Matt Borman wrote in an internal e-mail earlier this month. “If donors bring this up to you please just say that we are excited to be in Atlanta with an event in July and we wanted to take an opportunity this year to visit some of our supporters who don’t have the opportunity to make it to Athens on a regular basis.
“After this year of events we will reevaluate and definitely consider bringing some of these events back into Georgia.”
They will, if you make it worth their while. Otherwise, they’ll keep right on morphing — and counting on your acquiescence in the process. Hell, it’s worked nicely for them so far.
I know I felt better after reading that. And you?