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Greg McGarity leaves complex legacy as he steps down as UGA Athletic Director

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Greg McGarity has announced his retirement effective December 31, 2020 after ten years as the J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics at his alma mater.

McGarity is an Athens native who graduated from UGA in 1973 and lettered for Dan Magill in tennis during his time as an undergrad. Upon graduation he served in a variety of on field and administrative roles for the University, serving variously as a graduate assistant, assistant sports information director, the head tennis coach, and assistant AD for events and facility management.

McGarity then left Athens in 1992 to serve 18 years as a hostage of the University of Florida athletic department in Gainesville. Actually, he went voluntarily, and while we’ve never fully forgiven him for it, he nevertheless distinguished himself during his time in Gator Country by serving as Florida AD Jeremy Foley’s right hand saurian. In that capacity he both took part in the decision to hire (and meetings with) Urban Meyer as the Gators’ head coach and negotiations to keep Billy Donovan in Gainesville during a run of hoops success that included back-to-back national titles in 2005 and 2006.

He returned to Athens following the unseemly departure of another former UGA letterman turned Bulldog AD, Damon Evans. While McGarity’s tenure in Athens has not included the national titles his time in Gainesville brought, he has been (some would argue sometimes begrudgingly) a part of an era in UGA athletics that has seen major facility upgrades to bring the school’s athletic digs in line with those of its SEC and national coevals.

McGarity’s legacy will likely be inextricably tied to the hiring of yet another Bulldog letterman, Kirby Smart, to be the school’s head football coach, a move which delivered the school’s first national title game appearance in nearly four decades. Elsewhere, McGarity made the decision to replace longtime Bulldog basketball coach Mark Fox with former Indiana coach Tom Crean, a move about which the jury remains out.

His tenure has also coincided with an up-and-down era for Georgia’s traditionally dominant gymnastics and women’s basketball teams. While it would be inaccurate to say that McGarity turned Georgia into an across the board athletic powerhouse, it would also be unfair to say that he’s allowed the high standards he inherited to atrophy. Georgia has won national titles in sports as diverse as equestrian, swimming & diving and track & field under his watch, and the nationally recognized tennis program in which he played has remained a contender.

It is unknown at this time whether rumors are true that, in accord with recent practice, he gave Auburn’s athletic director the option of going first if he wanted.* What we do know is that, contrary to legitimate fears prior to his hiring, his tenure in Athens has been largely smooth off the field, often successful on it, and delightfully uneventful in terms of scandal, palace intrigue, and financial impropriety. McGarity will go down in the end analysis as a Damn Good Dawg who did a Damn Good job, even if some of his goals will remain unfulfilled. We wish him well, and wish his successor (whose identity we’ll speculate about shortly) good luck.

Go ‘Dawgs!!!

*We’re the ones who started the rumor and while we strongly doubt it’s true, it would have been fitting.