You may recall when the AJ-C published a letter from a former UGA baseball player that was critical of Greg McGarity, my first reaction was to ignore it here at the blog. The only reasons I wound up commenting were because so many asked me about it and because the author was more than a little involved in Georgia athletics. Content-wise, though, I thought the letter was a nothing burger, full of advice that was a reflection of the sentiment you could find in your average message board comments thread.
I should have known that McGarity disagreed.
Oh, not because he can’t take the heat. It’s because he wants to highlight the manner in which the criticism was presented.
McGarity wasn’t necessarily upset at Minick’s opinion. But he was caught off guard when the letter he read online wasn’t the one he was asked to comment on originally.
“Everybody has a right to say what they want. It’s a free world,” McGarity said. “But I was disappointed that the letter in its original form was not reproduced. And I think what the author said is that there were edits made for context. Well, when you delete sentences in the middle of paragraphs, to me, that’s an intent to shape the story in a way that wasn’t consistent. I was very disappointed in that.”
Mind you, when Emerson originally posted the letter, he acknowledged it was edited. Mind you further, McGarity had access to the original letter, was given the opportunity to respond to the AJ-C article and chose not to do so at the time it was posted for all to read.
Most significantly, though, the edits don’t change the thrust of Minick’s criticisms in the slightest. Here’s what Butt outlined:
▪ In the published letter, Minick wrote: “I suggest Billy Payne, or someone else of his stature head a search committee to name a new athletic director. Look at Clemson and what their athletic department has done with great leadership and a plan for high success.” This sentence, located in between those two sentences, was deleted: “Derek Dooley and Chris Welton (1980 football) are both candidates who come to mind.”
Since playing on Georgia’s 1980 national championship team, Welton has enjoyed a successful business career. Dooley, the son of Georgia legendary head coach and athletics director Vince Dooley, coaches receivers for the Dallas Cowboys and was previously the head coach at Louisiana Tech (17-20 overall record) and Tennessee (15-21).
▪ The published letter listed eight complaints among lettermen. The letter McGarity initially received showed seven. No. 4 on the published letter, which stated, “The UGA Athletic Board has limited representation from former Georgia athletes,” was added after McGarity was offered a chance to respond.
▪ Minick referenced a rumor that McGarity “has already chosen his successor” and that he hoped it wasn’t true. This was deleted from the letter.
In short, more condiments for the nothing burger. But that’s not what McGarity’s on about with this. This is nothing but an attempt on his part to make a beat reporter look bad. Of course, this being Greg McGarity, what we’re treated to is his typical ham-handed effort.
For some of you I’m sure it’s tempting to dismiss this (or maybe even cheer it on) either through the prism of media bashing or Richt bias. That would be a mistake, though. Here’s a man charged with running a major college athletic department, responsible for hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars, who apparently is stewing over a personal grudge that is largely the product of his own inept PR skills. McGarity is a man who chose to devote little effort to conducting a responsible search for a football head coach, but has the time to publish a personal blog to get his view out of what the story should be because he faults the media for not leading the fan base to love him more than it does.
These are not professional priorities for a man in his position.
The weirdest part of this is how personally this comes across for McGarity. He’s taken the lessons of his two predecessors to heart in that he hasn’t picked a fight with the power structure and hasn’t engaged in any personally embarrassing behavior. His immediate boss cares about the AD’s performance in the area of finances, where McGarity has delivered. The big boosters have gotten what they wanted in Kirby Smart. Hell, he’s even thoughtfully provided a hobby for Suzanne Yoculan.
In other words, there’s no reason for Greg McGarity to feel even the slightest bit of unease about his job security. He’s not going anywhere, even if Carroll Minick writes a letter a month for the next five years. (Not that Minick has any intention of doing that.) Yet here we are with an athletic director who’s decided it’s in his best interest to engage in a long-running pissing match with the media to sooth his feelings.
At a time when the approach of Kirby Smart’s second season should be sucking all the oxygen out of the reading room, another chapter of the Greg McGarity Story is not a good look for UGA.
As a Georgia alumnus — an alumnus of a university that takes due pride in its journalism school — I’m embarrassed. I get that nobody’s going to fire Greg McGarity, no matter how mediocre a job he does in the performance areas I care about, but can’t somebody direct him to remove his head from his ass? Or, better yet, to quit talking in public?