Don’t cry for me, Butts-Mehre.

The Georgia Way ain’t dead yet.

UGA President Jere Morehead and athletic director Greg McGarity lauded the Georgia people for stepping up with donations to fund these projects. McGarity said the Bulldogs already have received $71 million in pledges — mostly coming from members of the relatively new Magill Society — toward the $93 million in football projects.

“There’s a strong commitment by our supporters of the football program, but winning helps,” Morehead said after the first of two days of meetings with the board. “… But keep in mind, we’ve still got to collect on all of those pledges. We need people to pay up.”

It’s not them, in other words.  It’s us.

Amazingly after the success of last season, they can still put Kirby’s needs on hold.

Of all the projects discussed Thursday, none included the expansion of Georgia’s weight room for football. In meetings all over the South since the end of Georgia’s SEC Championship football season, coach Kirby Smart has been telling donors of the Bulldogs’ facility improvement needs in that area.

McGarity acknowledged that it was on Smart’s wish list, but said UGA is taking a prioritized approach to projects.

“We have to finish the West End first,” McGarity said. “We feel good about what we’re doing. These things take time. We want to plan it the right way.”

Besides, their hands are tied.

McGarity said the athletics department needs to pay off the West end zone construction before moving on to the next project.

The reason for waiting, Morehead said, has to do with the bond-related covenants Georgia’s athletic association has entered into, which requires a certain amount of cash to be in a reserve at all times.

“We can only be so far indebted as an athletic association and meet our bond requirements,” Morehead said. “We’re always going to be prudent and thoughtful in how we do these things.”

This is what you get when you have an athletic department that’s convinced it can’t chew gum and walk at the same time.  And takes comfort in its limitations.

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UPDATE:  Here’s a perfect example of fiscal prudence, Butts-Mehre style.

Eight years ago, UGA opened a renovated football facility, which went less than halfway in building an indoor practice field. It was inadequate from the start, and five years later the school was already planning to finally get a full-scale facility.

The old one, just seven years old, was destroyed to make room. Millions of dollars basically wasted.

The new indoor facility, which opened last year, has drawn raves, and deservedly so. But it was also built without expanding Georgia’s weight rooms, or a training table, or a new team meeting room, and other things that people around the program say are still needed.

Not sure why this is so hard for some of you to understand.

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46 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

46 responses to “Don’t cry for me, Butts-Mehre.

  1. Mayor

    I remember when CMR was the toast of Athens yet the suits at B-M jerked him around about stuff he said he needed. How long before they start doing the same with Kirby? Maybe already started? It’s the Georgia Way.

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    • It’s hard to break the Way.

      I think some of the slow roll to keep going is due to the tax changes. Those pledges were made when the contribution was 80% deductible. They do have to collect those now when the contribution is 0% deductible.

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      • Bulldog Joe

        For large donors, I understand the new tax law provides advantages for ‘bunching’ future ‘academic’ donations into a single tax year…now up to 60% of AGI. If true, I suspect the university is savvy enough to play this angle to get more money up-front.

        https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-tax-law-could-cut-giving-to-colleges-1521815127

        For the rank-and-file season ticket holder, this season offered the opportunity to get donations included in the 2017 tax year. The opportunity goes away next season.

        Aside from the Alabama schools, Georgia relies more on the donation component of season ticket revenue than the rest of the SEC. An attractive 2019 home schedule should mitigate most of impact of the tax law, but it will be interesting to see what happens beyond that.

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        • I don’t think this impacts any donations in exchange for seating rights. Maybe that works for someone who is contributing to the Commit to Georgia campaign through the Foundation, but Magill Society contributions get no tax benefit unless you specifically turn down the seating benefit.

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    • 3rdandGrantham

      That was CMR’s fault – or certainly a healthy percentage of it. After all, Pruitt arrived on the scene as a relatively unknown assistant coach with little clout, and within weeks he was publicly demanding an IPF as something of great need. Sure enough, literally within days the AD got off their hands and publicly committed to the project after years of operating in a state of drift.

      Unfortunately CMR was a weak leader who would not speak out publicly, yet instead he went along for the ride and kowtowed to the AD’s wishes, as he even admitted later on after his firing. It’s a rather interesting story of how a coach essentially becomes aligned in the general malaise of the administration itself, similar to Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, who too was recently shown the door after many years at the helm.

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      • “That was CMR’s fault” … maybe 2012-15. He was asking for these things when he was the toast not just of Athens but of the state. The fact he didn’t use his leverage then by having his agent sniff at other jobs was the problem.

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      • Dawgwalker07

        “That was CMR’s fault – or certainly a healthy percentage of it.”

        That would be more believable if football was the only sport where our facilities had fallen behind, but considering we’re WAY behind a majority of the SEC/Nation in multiple sports I think it’s more of a systemic issue. Certainly Richt could have pushed harder, and we don’t know exactly what type of fuss he kicked up in the early 2000’s, but it’s more than crystal clear that for decades the athletic department has had no desire to stay ahead of the times. Now that those chickens are coming home to roost no one seems to have a plan to deal with it besides asking donors to pay up and complaining about bond agreements.

        Leadership at its finest.

        Liked by 2 people

        • 3rdandGrantham

          CMR and UGA football are by far the greatest focus and concern when it comes to the AD. So if the new softball complex wasn’t up to snuff or the golf course was falling behind, I wouldn’t expect Lu Harris-Champer or whomever to have 1/100th the clout that CMR had to push to get things done.

          Again, an assistant coach (Pruitt) comes onto the scene with little equity or clout and publicly reprimands the AD, and within days they answer positively that, by golly, we hear your pain and will green light the project asap. Meanwhile, as usual, it was crickets from CMR. That, and that alone should tell anyone with an IQ of 75 that there was a weak leader in place who probably was more aligned with the AD than he was with actively trying to improve the program with better on-field results.

          This is why many, including SB here, refer to the IPF as the JPIPF.

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          • Athens Townie

            Good points above on both sides.

            Being an excellent head coach requires effectively lobbying administration for what the program needs. Perhaps that’s easier at — say — Bama or Auburn than it is at Georgia. But, clearly, Richt did not excel in that department. The bottom line speaks for itself and that was a major weakness of his leadership. Why he failed at that is harder to know.

            I hope Smart proves a better manager of the Georgia Way than Richt. There are some glimmers of hope, for sure. But it’s too early to tell.

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    • No Axe to Grind

      That would not be wise.

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  2. We can disagree a little here. I like the way that Georgia always keeps a cash reserve. 5 years ago, UT was $200MM in the red…

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    • Sorry, but this isn’t a binary choice between being a complete spendthrift and Scrooge McDuck. It is possible to spend prudently. Of course, that takes more work and planning than Butts-Mehre is willing to give.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. jhorne2000

    “I want a goose that lays golden eggs for Easter, and I want it now!”

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  4. 3rdandGrantham

    Have to disagree with you here, and IMO they indeed are spending prudently. Mind you, really it pains me to type these words in support of ADGM/AD, but just calling it as I see it. They have dumped a TON of money into the program in the last few years alone, and let’s not forget that the AD still has around 160m in debt/bonds to pay off (based on the last estimate I’ve read). So while everyone liked to ignorantly, or perhaps conveniently, point to the 30-40m rainy day fund – as if we have zero debt while hoarding cash just because – the fact remains there is a mountain of debt out there that needs to be addressed.

    With that said, Morehead’s quote that “we need people to pay up” makes me cringe. Gee, I dunno, but perhaps a bit more tact and general EQ skills would be nice, and maybe instead say “we’re counting on our pledges to come through on their commitment to us”…something like that. If I were a pledge and I got a phone call telling me to ‘pay up,’ I very well might tell them to do something that most would consider a physical impossibility yet is an often heard phrase of basically telling someone off.

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    • The rainy day fund, as you refer to it, is about twice the size you state it to be.

      I might concede that you have something of a point if they were going out of their way to reduce debt, especially if it was debt burdened with an exceedingly high rate of interest. The reality is that rates have been low and they aren’t reluctant to borrow money when they see fit.

      Prudence isn’t just about spending less than you take in. It’s also about spending in a way that best suits the business Butts-Mehre is engaged in.

      How exactly is it prudent, for example, to let the tennis facilities, once the jewel of NCAA tennis, lapse into a state where UGA is no longer fit to host the tennis championships, only to be shamed into paying to improve them years later in the hopes that the event will return to Athens?

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      • 3rdandGrantham

        Maybe the figures I read about were incorrect, and if I have time I’ll try and find them today, but the last estimate I read was around 35m after using a sizable portion towards the west end project. Rates are low but are on the way up – quite dramatically I might add – as you might have noticed of late. And UGA is paying something like 4.5m in yearly interest alone to service the debt – not exactly a small chunk of change.

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        • There’s a piece Seth Emerson wrote I linked to here at the blog estimating there’s about $80 million in the reserve fund, a figure I’ve had confirmed by others.

          Interest rates going up don’t affect current debt service.

          And you may have noticed that revenues are going up even more dramatically than interest rates.

          Keep an eye on transfers to the school and the UGA Foundation.

          Liked by 1 person

          • 3rdandGrantham

            Aware that current debt isn’t subjected to increase in rates; I was referring to future borrowing and your comment that “they aren’t reluctant to borrow money when they see fit.” As for the rainy day fund, after more than a cursory look you are correct, as I didn’t factor in the 30+ mil stashed away under the Foundation guise. So I’m guessing the fund will be own to around 60m after the west end project is completed, and that still leaves a considerable debt load to address regardless.

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            • When you can go ask for a 30% price increase from your best and most loyal wallets (I mean customers) and they pay, you begin to think your business model is indestructible. Just wait until next year when the ND ticket is priced at triple digits.

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  5. Bulldog Joe

    June 30, 2017’s and 2016’s financial statements can be found here.

    http://www.dacbond.com/dacContent/doc.jsp?id=0900bbc7802134a0

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  6. ATL Dawg

    $70 million in reserves and they still throw out the “we can’t go too far into debt” bullshit.

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    • 3rdandGrantham

      Again, the AD has substantial debt of 150m+, and I’m not sure why so many continue to conveniently ignore this fact.

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      • ATL Dawg

        I’d love to see where you’re getting that number and whether it figures in pledges/donations.

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        • 3rdandGrantham

          Go look it up for yourself, it’s pretty easy to find. It’s quite common knowledge that UGA AD has well over 100m in outstanding bonds. The last figure I saw was 160m, but perhaps they’ve paid some of it off in the last year. Pledges/donations are separate and are being used towards current projects, like the west end zone project and and such.

          It’s basically akin to having 70K in a savings account and 160K various debt, yet your relatives are calling you a pussy for being a cheap a** and not buying that new boat you’ve had your eye on.

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          • 3rdandGrantham

            Did a quick search, and here’s an article from a few years ago stating the debt is just under 130m, and there is a quote about the reserve fund was actually created by taking out debt for it. More so, the debt servicing on those bonds require that UGA hold at least 50% of their debt amount in reserves at all times, or in this case 65m+.

            So again it’s not all cut and dry as most everyone thinks, in which they ignorantly assume that UGA has no debt and is just sitting back hoarding cash. Take the current debt, along with rapidly increasing expenses and additional projects to come, and again UGA has been operating quite prudently IMO.

            http://www.macon.com/sports/college/university-of-georgia/bulldogs-beat/article30128610.html

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  7. PTC DAWG

    What is so hard to understand about this? Or do most of you just think it’s bovine excrement?

    “The reason for waiting, Morehead said, has to do with the bond-related covenants Georgia’s athletic association has entered into, which requires a certain amount of cash to be in a reserve at all times.

    “We can only be so far indebted as an athletic association and meet our bond requirements,” Morehead said. “We’re always going to be prudent and thoughtful in how we do these things.”

    Like

  8. SemperFiDawg

    Anyone know the projected cost of the weigh room add on, or are we too poor to even ask for estimates yet?

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    • Russ

      Well, it depends on if we’re asking for just the water slide, or if we’re looking for the complete water park.

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    • Cojones

      Was waiting to ask the very same question.

      Senator, this is a subject where I totally agree with your opinion concerning building what’s needed without going into crisis mode after every school points out that their facilities are better before and after we finish the new player’s facilities. It’s numbnuts who don’t pay attention to such things that allow the Auburns to out-recruit us when we are pouring money on a not-too-long-ago smoldering fire. Our coach needs a weight facility expansion for athletes and we are putting this trivial expense (when compared to other recent expenses) aside until crisis mode (or whatever mode the B-M crowd goes for) is reached? It calls to question what business these Bozos are pushing that qualifies their existence.

      Exactly why do we have an AD if he can’t push for any coach’s needs? And I blame B-M for his existence as well. This machine that’s well-oiled with moola should scarf this project up while it is running downhill and not wait for hard times. Yeah, we are asking Jere about whether our AD is on the bubble while the B-M crowd can pull his fiscal responsibility chain anytime they want and leave the AD behind the President’s eight ball. Who in hell is running this penny wise and pound stupid show?

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  9. Bulldog Joe

    “There’s a strong commitment by our supporters of the football program, but winning helps”

    Finally, there is a small acknowledgement that winning on the field is starting to matter in Athens.

    Baby steps.

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  10. The Dawg abides

    Jon Stinchcomb had it right. It’s almost unfathomable that there is no master plan for athletic facilities. Everything the AA does is reactionary and playing catch-up. It’s a pipe dream with the Georgia Way and all, but a visionary master plan with a well defined road map for financing, accompanied by a fundraising campaign, would actually give th AA much more credence with alumni and supporters.

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  11. TomReagan

    That new link is bad. Lack of a long term vision and concrete plans to carry it out is a sign of poor leadership, plain and simple.

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  12. DawgByte

    “This is what you get when you have an athletic department that’s convinced it can’t chew gum and walk at the same time. And takes comfort in its limitations.”

    I think there’s a certain element of truth to your statement above. They’ve have consistently lacked imagination IMO. Regarding the cash reserve issue to meet the demands of our bond criteria. That’s finance and I’m sure they’re operating under certain costly restrictions. Now that doesn’t mean they can’t get more creative with their donors and other financial models. Again, UGA’s athletic leadership lacks imagination. It is improving, however.

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  13. Russ

    I know this is a football blog, but I’m still royally pissed about the tennis facilities. Dan Magill and UGA basically made the NCAA tournament back in the late 70’s, and now we don’t even have the facilities to host it. The last time we did was an embarrassment to the school. I’d think it would be a major embarrassment to McGoofity, a tennis letterman, but apparently he has no shame.

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    • Russ

      And by “made the tournament”, I mean UGA and Magill turned it into a crowd-pleasing event that attracted large crowds and made money.

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    • Ricky McDurden

      Sometimes I wonder if they even have computers in BM or if the leadership relies on weekly newsletters and daily sports sections to deliver the scoop around college athletics, thereby missing all of the e-updates on tennis and football and baseball facilities that have left UGA in the dust.

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  14. UGA '97

    Go ask Jimmy Sexton for those funds bacj Greg. Jeebus,

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  15. OurADisAGlorifiedBoatAnchor

    You need to say in your out loud voice that we spent $63 million on a banquet hall for recruits. When every other aspect of the build out that adds value could’ve been done for next to nothing.

    That’s something you have just can’t make up. For that money we could have a weight room, renovate the end zone without the total do over and build a down town baseball arena.

    It’s total insanity. The financial mismanagement is staggering.

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  16. Ricky McDurden

    I really can’t understand why in the year 2018 our Athletic leadership has to first schedule a game with Clemson or Notre Dame and then travel to the game 3-5 years later before being able to find inspiration enough from the foreign locale that changes should be brought to UGA. I know I probably have a bit more time on my hands to read college football listicles about outstanding stadium experiences and cutting-edge facilities but is it really so hard in the Summer to send an Associate AD or two out on scouting trips to other campuses to see what other schools are doing? Does McGarity and Co really have to travel a few hours to a new campus every few years to be able to absorb the vision of others before choosing their next project? You’d think our AD was led by Marco Polo endeavoring to find exotic items to bring home to an ignorant populace.

    And maybe I just don’t understand the engineering that would be required, but wouldn’t it look better longterm to add some brick work to those concrete supports on the north side (as opposed to a coat of paint) and then add the murals or programs or whatever thereafter? Is UGA in such a rush to half-ass Notre Dame’s stadium experience this Fall that we will spend a few million to slap-dash some paint and pictures onto an open part of campus when some patience and forethought would yield a more visually attractive investment? The irony is not lost on me that the Tech Deck for which these concrete pillars exist is itself the definition of architectural half-assery.

    Why do these people making 6 figures at a major University lack any apparent ingenuity or imagination? Or, at least, why do they lack the basic communication skills to say “here’s our longterm plan of what we would like to do but some things are higher priorities than others and if you feel strongly about one of these projects please email Matt Borman with the amount you’d like to pledge toward its completion”?

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  17. CB

    The half ass indoor “all purpose” facility was a joke even to the students at the time.

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