Holy smokes. “A lot” really means a lot.
… According to invoices provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an open records request, Georgia’s expenses for chartered air services from this past December through Jan. 31 increased 576 percent over the same time period the previous year under Richt.
Smart’s staff produced 25 invoices totaling $1.183 million during that two-month span. Seven of those invoices reflected charges of $82,000 or more for private jets, with a high of $182,869.14 on Jan. 20… [Emphasis added.]
An almost six-fold increase, year-over-year? Jeebus. Ah, but there’s a reason, you see.
McGarity, who along with a board of directors is charged with overseeing the athletic association’s budget, acknowledged that Smart has utilized private charters more often than his predecessor. But he also took issue with comparing the two totals.
“That’s apples to oranges; there’s no way to compare that,” McGarity said. “A lot of that was interviewing candidates. It wasn’t all recruiting. We were in a transition year. … ”
Maybe the Skype machine was broken. In any event, McGarity’s math doesn’t exactly hold up.
However, it’s after the open period for recruiting resumed in mid-January that Smart and his staff logged most of their chartered miles. Seventeen of the 25 invoices totaling more than $750,000 were filed after Jan. 13 when the recruiting calendar again permitted in-home visits.
Again, McGarity insisted UGA didn’t do anything more for Smart than Richt.
“We never told him no; there’s never been an instance we said, ‘Mark, you can’t charter,’” McGarity said. “If there is the perception that the new guy gets everything, that’s just not true. (The head coach) gets whatever he needs, whatever he requests.”
To be fair, Richt doesn’t dispute that. And it’s not like I have a problem with the athletic department lavishing spending on recruiting, especially when Smart was going all out to hold a class together on short time.
But it’s funny that there’s a sense of denial about what’s going on. If this is an apples and oranges comparison, it’s only because Smart comes in from a very different environment than the one Richt operated in. When it comes to spending money, the process appears to be kicking the Georgia Way’s ass these days. I welcome that, but it’s worth remembering what we all thought when Butts-Mehre ponied up for Richt after the Belk Bowl: with greater investment comes greater accountability. It’s hard to argue that Smart shouldn’t be judged by the same standard, and, by extension, McGarity as well.