Virginia athletic director Carla Williams brought staff down to Georgia to see “what it looks like and what the possibilities are and what the vision is” ($$).
“It” being one thing Georgia’s athletic department excels at these days: raising money from donors.
The interesting thing here is that in certain important ways, UVa is a polar opposite to UGA. Unlike Georgia’s, Virginia’s existing endowment is massive ($9.5 billion). Nor has Virginia suffered through a school president like Michael Adams, who alienated a significant portion of the donor base. Clearly, nobody in Charlottesville has to be concerned about reaching out for contributions.
On the other hand, as Staples points out, Georgia has been far more committed, financially speaking, to its football program than Virginia ever has.
This is new territory for a program accustomed to spending among the least on football in the ACC. In the past four years of data submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, Virginia ranked either No. 11 or No. 12 in spending on football. In fiscal 2017, the last year of available data, Virginia was No. 11 at $22.6 million…
On Saturday at Notre Dame, Virginia will face a program that spent $42.8 million on football last year. This is why Williams took her team to Georgia (which spent $44.9 on football in that year, which also included an SEC title, a Rose Bowl win and a trip to the national title game).
So, you’ve got a wonderful source of funding that has gone relatively untapped and you want to mine it to build a football program. Who you gonna call?
Williams’ former boss, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity, said Virginia’s upswing in football should help raise that money. McGarity said Georgia’s athletic department is required to raise all of the money for capital improvements so as not to accrue more debt.
Of course you are.
McGarity said Williams already has the most important piece in Mendenhall. Smart, McGarity said, has been the driving force behind Georgia’s on-field and fundraising success. “Kirby’s a key part of that,” McGarity said. “He takes time to visit with donors. He’s so personable and he’s so sincere. It’s just how he’s wired.”
Williams also knows she has to make sure donors feel special. And sometimes, she said, that’s less complicated than most would expect. “It may be as simple as being on the field pregame,” Williams said. “When you can create unique experiences that people value and appreciate, that’s when you can start to make a difference.”
Wahoo wah! A new day beckons. Prepare to reach for your wallets, Virginia fans. Your very own Magill Society is just around the corner.
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