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Greg McGarity, athletic director for the University of Georgia, watches the end of the University of Georgia women's tennis match against the University of Alabama, on Thursday, March 29, 2018 at the Dan Magill Tennis complex in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Christina R. Matacotta, crmatacotta@gmail.com)

The University of Georgia held its fall Board of Directors meeting virtually Friday afternoon. Among the topics addressed by the athletic association were the anticipated financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, its student ticket allocation plan and the introduction of a new four-phase diversity program. 

A decision on tailgating has yet to be determined as we near Georgia football’s Sept. 26 season opener at Arkansas. Here are some takeaways from The Red & Black:

Financial loss from COVID-19

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said that the UGA Athletic Association’s expected financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic is an estimated $55 million for the current fiscal year. The revenue loss is partly because of canceled games included in Georgia’s initial regular season and a reduced capacity of 20-25% at Sanford Stadium during all four home games this season. 

Additionally, expenses are expected to rise to provide coronavirus-related medical testing and abide by sanitation protocols and procedures. McGarity said that the financial loss could increase if Georgia’s football season’s current plan were to experience further setbacks. 

“This is based on what we know the season to be at this time,” McGarity said. “If there was any interruption … it could change those numbers. But this is on the assumption that we’re moving forward with 10 [football] games.”

McGarity added that the athletic association is “confident” that any deficit moving forward could be absorbed using the UGAAA’s cost-containment measures and a portion of its financial reserves.

“We certainly don’t want to deplete our reserves,” McGarity said. “We plan to use a portion, but we really don’t know what that number will be. But certainly, it’s a huge part of our operating expenses. … It’ll be one of the tools in the tool chest that we’ll use to help make ends meet.”

Student ticket allocation plan

While the three-day period for UGA students to register for football tickets concluded Friday at noon, how those tickets would be allocated wasn’t confirmed until the Board’s meeting. 

Tori Ector, a graduate student in UGA’s sports management program, announced during the meeting that “roughly 12,000” total tickets will be allotted for students throughout the entirety of this football season. For comparison, throughout Georgia’s previous two regular seasons, approximately 16,000 tickets were provided to students at each home game.

Ector said that 3,200 seats would be reserved for each game and split between students, the Redcoat Band and the Spirit Squad. 

Twenty-five percent of the seats reserved for students will be given to incoming undergraduate first-year students and another 25% will be for students with 90 or more credit hours. An additional 20% of the ticket allocation is reserved for students with one to 59 credit hours and students with 60 to 89 credit hours. The final 10% of ticket allocation will go to graduate and professional students.  

“In order to ensure that as many students as possible may attend at least one home game, no student shall receive more than one home game ticket during the season for initial allocation processing,” Ector said. 

Because of this, the two-strike policy used in previous seasons won’t be in effect this season. 

Introducing a new diversity program

Kevin Carr, founder and CEO of Pro2CEO, a development firm specializing in career transition and business development-consulting for current and former athletes, partnered with the UGAAA to develop initiatives that assess diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Carr’s program is titled the “Diversity Inclusion Innovation Program” and involves four separate phases. Each phase will last three months. 

Some of the program’s goals include educating coaches, staff and student-athletes on inclusive language and cultural competencies, creating a sustainable action plan that promotes inclusion as well as an intentional method for identifying diverse candidates in the UGAAA’s hiring process. 

Phase one of the program began in July, and Carr has appreciated what he’s seen thus far, including Georgia’s Dawgs for Pups initiatives. 

“We’re in this amazing opportunity of change,” Carr said. “[The student-athletes, coaches and staff] are living it. They’re doing it. … So we’re making great progress. It’s a tremendous effort that everybody is committing to. No one is letting their foot off the gas.”

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