Georgia donors, you pays your money and you makes your choice, sort of:
The UGA athletic board was meeting on Thursday, and the subject at the moment was fundraising. Jon Stinchcomb, the former Georgia and NFL player, spoke up.
“With Magill Society donations, they can earmark what it goes towards? So it can go to soccer, or to golf, or the west end zone?” Stinchcomb asked UGA executive associate AD Matt Borman, who was giving a presentation to the board.
“Yes sir,” Borman answered. “The majority of those donors give it unrestricted. But there’s no question that if they wanted it to go to a certain area, and we have a current project going on, we can accept those requests.”
It’s just that for some of you, unrestricted may not mean what you think it means.
As construction begins on the most expensive facility project in recent UGA athletics history, the school already has millions of fundraised money available to pay for it. But that comes with an asterisk: Many of the donors didn’t know they were giving money for that project.
Back in 2015, when UGA unveiled plans for the indoor facility ($30.2 million), the administration said it would split the cost with donors: Half through fundraising, half out of the school’s own reserve funds.
But fans were so eager for the much-awaited facility that they poured in funds. In fact, when the facility was dedicated this past February, athletics director Greg McGarity announced that a total of 475 people had donated $36 million.
So what happened with the extra $6 million? It was simply applied, at least most of it, to the next project: The Sanford Stadium west end zone project, which carries a $63 million price tag, of which $53 million is expected to come from donations.
And by now the Magill Society — which was set up when fundraising for the indoor facility began — can boast just over $50 million in donations.
So the entire indoor facility has been paid for by donations, rather than just half. And McGarity said this week that “small slices” of the money was also directed to facility improvements for soccer and golf.
McGarity was asked if there was any consideration given to, when they hit $15 million, saying thank you, the administration will foot the rest.
“No, I think the key thing is you want to generate as much you can off new brick and mortar,” McGarity said. “For us to cap it at $15 million and say we’re done, doesn’t allow you the opportunity to grow. I think the passion that people know [they have], and once you add certain projects under the Magill Society, they continue to grow.”
I’m not sure I find anything inherently wrong with that. If you want to give with strings attached, don’t forget to bring the strings. On the other hand, knowing that most of our fan base cares little about Georgia athletics outside of football, I wonder how pleased some of those Magill donors would be to find that their contributions were being directed to grow the women’s soccer program. If you’re one of those folks, cheer up, though: at least you got those sweet Hartman Fund points.
With that in mind, were I a head coach of one of Georgia’s other athletic programs, I’d sure hope Kirby starts winning big soon.