The University of Florida announced today that long time athletic director Jeremy Foley will be stepping down this fallfrom his duties after 25 years at the helm in Gainesvile. We here at Dawg Sports wish him the best, which I hope you will understand is a colossally difficult thing to do given how often his school's teams have utterly ruined our day. This is what magnanimous looks like. Congrats, Jeremy.
But this now means that Florida is on the hunt for a replacement. One name which you will almost certainly hear in that conversation is that a Georgia athletic director Greg Mcgarity. McGarity, you may recall, served as Foley's lieutenant for 18 years at Florida. Many of the major decisions of Foley's administration were reached with McGarity's input. The two have remained close friends since McGarity returned home to Athens in 2010 to replace Damon Evans. This is a fact which neither is secretive about. To say that many of McGarity's decisions at the University of Georgia have been shaped by his time assisting Foley is no stretch. Again, McGarity admits quite publicly that he enjoyed his time in Gainesville and still has a lot of friends there.
It stands to reason then that Foley might recommend turning the reins over to a guy who already knows his way around the place. Could Greg Mcgarity leave his post in Athens to become the athletic director at the University of Florida?
Much to the chagrin of a truly committed group of Bulldog fans, I think the answer is no. The reasons are myriad. For one, McGarity is a native of Athens who attended the University of Georgia and worked in various capacities with the athletic department before taking the job at Florida. McGarity would most certainly not be "going home" by returning to Gainesville. Quite the opposite.
And as much as Florida fans might disagree, it is essentially a lateral move. Florida does not offer significantly more in the way of resources, and in fact may offer less in terms of revenue to work with. Admittedly, Georgia's revenue hasn't been spent on its athletic director. McGarity makes roughly $600,000 per year, which certainly ain't that bad. But Foley earns about twice that ($1,230,000) at Florida. McGarity's current contract runs through 2019 after being extended this time last year, but if necessary I suspect the board could find a few extra dollars to keep him.
Another reason McGarity is unlikely to leave Athens is that the timing just isn't right. The hiring of new football coach Kirby Smart has McGarity's fingerprints all over it, and Smart's success or lack thereof will largely determine McGarity's legacy in the Classic City. He could certainly leave, but the timing would be horrible, and would haunt McGarity for years to come. McGarity has also overseen a variety of capital-intensive projects which one expects he would want to see through to the end, such as the upcoming indoor practice facility.
Finally, Florida doesn't necessarily offer a bed of roses ready to be pranced through. The jury's still out on how well basketball coach Mike White will do replacing Billy Donovan. He would also inherit the Jim McElwain football hire, which has shown some promise so far, but is far from being proven a resounding success. If McGarity wanted those type of challenges he'd stay right where he is.
Is it impossible? No. But I just don't see anything that leads me to believe Florida offers a job opportunity Greg McGarity couldn't pass up. Sorry, folks.