Friday, September 10, 2021

Highlights From UGA Athletic Board Fall Meeting

UGA Sports Communications

A feasibility study for updates to Foley Field and Jack Turner Softball Stadium, plans for a six-court indoor tennis facility and improvements to Sanford Stadium were a few of the topics discussed Friday at the University of Georgia Athletic Association Board of Directors fall meeting.

In addition to facility upgrades, J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks touched on a variety of items in his report, including efforts to improve the game day experience, a budget overview, the academic achievements of student-athletes and the success of Georgia Olympians.

Below are highlights from Brooks’ remarks.

• The athletic department has started a feasibility study for Foley Field and Jack Turner Softball Stadium.

• The No. 1 goal is to improve the student-athlete experience by creating indoor spaces for hitting and pitching. UGA will also look at what is possible in terms of increasing seating capacity.

• Brooks announced plans for the Sanford Stadium Press Box and 100 Level Concourse. The goal is to expand the concourse and improve restrooms and concessions, while increasing ADA seating. Phase 2 will include building a new press box in the southwest section of Sanford Stadium, while the current press box will be converted to a premium space.

• There are plans to renovate the former football locker room in the Butts-Mehre building to create a better space for the track and field squad.

• Members of the athletic department had their first meeting with the design team for the new indoor tennis facility.

• Brooks touched on the efforts of his staff to improve the fan experience at all Georgia home events, including family-friendly concessions menu and Zaxby’s ice.

• KultureCity has helped train UGA athletic department personnel in assisting individuals with sensory needs at Bulldog events.

• Financially, UGA closed the year in the black thanks to the phenomenal work by all staff.

• Brooks touched on the fact that 8.6 percent of student-athletes had a perfect 4.0 GPA last academic year, which is the highest percentage on record at UGA.

• A 3.15 combined GPA for Bulldog student-athletes in 2020-21 was the second highest on record at Georgia.

Other highlights of the meeting included:

• A comprehensive financial report by Treasurer Ryan Nesbit, who expressed gratitude to the Athletic Association for its efforts in overcoming unprecedented financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

• A glowing academic report from Faculty Athletics Representative, Prof. David Shipley. Highlights of Shipley's report included:

• Women’s golf won the Faculty Athletics Rep (FAR) Award for the highest GPA among Bulldog athletic programs with a 3.54 GPA, while men’s cross country posted a 3.48 GPA to lead all men’s teams.

• Close to 70 percent (67.2 percent to be exact) of Georgia student-athletes finished with a GPA of 3.0 or higher for the 2020-21 academic year.

• Deputy Athletics Director Will Lawler gave an annual compliance report with an emphasis on NIL (Name, Image and Likeness). He stated that the Athletic Association has gone through many efforts to assist student-athletes during this time.

• Student representatives Josh Stinson (UGA baseball player) and Brennan Cox (non-athlete student rep) also shared reports.

J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks

On the feasibility study on Foley Field and Jack Turner Stadium improvements …

“That’s why we are talking about feasibility studies. When you think about projects, there are really three basic phases of projects — feasibility, design and then construction. When you announce a feasibility study, it is to go into the site and see what is possible. We did some work at Foley a number of years ago. Based off that, what we learned there is what is possible. Where can we go and expand out for more player-development spaces and coaches offices, and then how do we use that space smartly? … Now, you also have to be smart about how you use it. So, do you obviously want to add some general seating, probably more seating for students — that’s always a great thing. Then, really look at some interesting ways to use premium spaces, so that will be part of that feasibility process — seeing how others have done it, how we can do it and really what the demand is.”

“We have had phenomenal attendance at softball games, and we really want to expand it. That is again why it is important to have those fair concession prices. We bring out families, it is a free event, and we do not want to gouge them at the concession stand.”

On the financial success of the Athletic Association during the pandemic …

“Earlier in the year, it was projected to be a bigger shortfall. That number kept decreasing as we did a better job of managing expenses, as our development office and ticket office did a phenomenal job of getting people to convert their refunds into donations. Throughout all those measures, it led us to a point where we are in the black.”

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