Greg McGarity reaches ten years at UGA

Published 10:24 am Saturday, September 19, 2020

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For Greg McGarity, his career could be likened to that of a caddie advancing into a successful realm that enabled him to buy the country club where he once toted the golf bags of established members; or maybe the kid who bagged groceries at the neighborhood store and grew up to own an entire chain of stores; or perhaps a ball park Coca-Cola vendor who became the owner of the ballclub.

This fall marks McGarity’s tenth anniversary as the Georgia athletic director. Emotionally, it was his dream job, but he never set his sights on becoming the Bulldogs’ AD. “In college athletics, dream jobs may never come about,” he said over a down-home meal recently as he reflected on his career path.  “Because of my love and passion for the University of Georgia, I always thought about how nice it would be to return home for that opportunity, but I really didn’t think it would happen.”

Greg grew up on South Milledge Ave., where the McGaritys were neighbors of the Don Basinger family. Greg was friends with Mick Basinger. As youngsters they learned the finer points of tennis from UGA’s Dan Magill. Greg was also a playmate of Mick’s soon-to-be famous sister, Kim.  In fact, Greg was the first to see Kim Basinger topless, but it was not a sensation back then. They were four years old.

He had the good fortune to become a protégé of the colorful and extraordinary Magill, Georgia’s multi-accomplished icon.  Greg’s first assignment was that of a ball chaser at the tennis courts. During tennis practice when a Georgia player connected with a ball with such erratic force that it flew out of the tennis stadium, the Georgia coach would yell, “Ball over, Greg!”

When Damon Evans was hired to succeed Vince Dooley in 2004, Greg’s name was frequently mentioned as a possible successor to Dooley, but the stars did not align. Greg pretty much concluded that any possibility of a homecoming was as unlikely as his buddy Spurrier saying something nice about Georgia.

However, Evans’ unexpected departure six years later suddenly opened the door for McGarity again. Serendipity soon was riding shotgun on his career train. This time he became the “most likely to succeed,” and was hired by UGA President Michael Adams to run the athletic program which had spawned him.

Support from several corners aided and abetted Greg’s candidacy.

There was a sentiment for hiring a Georgia man and he was the best one available. The timing seemed propitious. This time the stars aligned.  At 8 a.m., Aug. 12, 2010, he got a call from Adams, who asked Greg a simple question. “How would you like to be the next athletic director at the University of Georgia?”  Greg’s response: “Let’s get to work.”

Honoring the work ethic is one of McGarity’s singular traits. He was ready to roll up his sleeves and have at it.  He had experience under two highly successful and esteemed athletic directors, Foley and Georgia’s Dooley. He was well-versed in all facets of college athletic administration. He was ready. Once aboard, he set about assessing, enhancing and improving facilities; strengthening the administrative staff by underscoring communication, teamwork and morale.  You call him, he would call you back.  You have a sensitive request, he would listen. He seldom missed a game or a meet.  He often supported every Bulldog team by traveling to out-of-town competitions.

As we look back, on his tenth anniversary on the job, he owns an impressive box score of successes and accomplishments, headlined by football facility enhancements.