The Atlanta Journal Constitution‘s Tim Tucker yesterday released a list of 49 applicants who have applied for UGA’s vacant athletic director position.
Among the highlighted applicants are UGA graduate and University of Florida Associate Director of Athletics Greg McGarity, longtime NFL executive Jim Steeg, businessman Mark Lewis (father is Bill Lewis former UGA assistant and GT head coach), and Steve Dennis who is the athletic director at Troy as well as a former UGA player.
It is believed that McGarity is the front runner. He has been Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley’s right man since 1992. While UGA fans despise Florida more than any other conference rival, the Gators are the standard for athletics in the Southeastern conference. They have won 20 of the past 23 SEC all-sports titles as well as finishing in the top 5 in the NCAA’s All Sports Trophy rankings 12 out the last 17 years.
Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun refered to McGarity just yesterday “as one of the best people I know” and he “really wants the job.” Congressman Jack Kingston “enthuastically recommended” McGarity for a job in a letter to UGA President Michael Adams. Kingston wrote that McGarity “is ready to get back to his hometown and to serve his alma mater in this distinguished position.”
There may not be a more a perfect fit in Athens than Greg McGarity. However, a McGarity hire could spell trouble for football coach Mark Richt. McGarity has had a front row seat to view the recent implosions in Jacksonville by Richt’s Dawgs. McGarity more than anyone knows that for UGA to be considered among the Alabama and Floridas of the world it must solve the Gator hex. And you can bet he will expect nothing less if he is tapped to lead UGA’s athletic department.
The darkhorse in the race could be Troy AD Steve Dennis. He played football for the Dawgs as a defensive back for Vince Dooley. Dennis has overseen a successful transformation of the Troy football program under head coach Larry Blakeney. The school did not play Division 1 football until 2001, but the move has been huge success as the school won its 3rd straight Sun Belt title in 2008.
The Grittree had communications late Thursday night with Drew Champlin who covers Troy for the Dothan (AL) Eagle. Champlin said that the Troy faithful “seem to love him (Dennis), but much of “the power comes from the chancellor.” With Dennis finding success working in this type of environment, it could appeal to UGA President Michael Adams who likes to have his fingertips involved in virtually everything that goes on at UGA.
Whoever Adams chooses, I would expect a new athletic director to be hired within the next couple of weeks. With names beginning to surface out of UGA it appears a conclusion may be drawing near. I do not believe that President Adams will want to begin the 2010 football season without an athletic director firmly in place.