SportsMarch 2004: Vol. 83, No. 2

Dooley’s second in command will administer $45 million athletic budget
Evans named A.D.

amon Evans, senior associate athletic director at UGA and a former Southeastern Conference compliance official has been named director of athletics, effective July 1, 2004. Evans (BBA ’92, MEd ’94) is working with retiring athletic director Vince Dooley and President Michael F. Adams during a six-month transitional period.

Vince Dooley had warm words to say about Evans, who played for him and has been his second in command since 1998.

Interviewed at the Capital One Bowl, athletic director Vince Dooley had warm words to say about Evans, who played for him and has been his second in command since 1998.

Evans, 34, has been second in command to Dooley since 1998, helping to oversee a program that fields 21 intercollegiate sports teams involving more than 500 student-athletes, a $45 million budget, and 206 staff members.

Evans held compliance-related positions with the SEC from 1993-98, with the exception of a one-year stint as director of compliance/operations for the University of Missouri. His bachelor’s degree is in finance, his master’s in sports management.

A native of Omaha, Neb., Evans moved to Georgia and became a three-sport star at Gainesville High, earning first-team all-state honors as a football wide receiver. He was MVP of the basketball team and set a school record in track for the 220-yard dash. He is a Georgia football letterman, having played from 1988-92.

“If I were coming from any position in America to accept this post, I would still say the same thing—that the University of Georgia is one of the premier athletics programs in the nation,” says Evans. “There’s no place I would rather be than right here with the extraordinary opportunity to help move this program to even greater heights.”

Evans was one of three unranked names recommended for President Adams’ consideration by a search committee. He is responsible for an athletic association budget that has grown by 60 percent during his tenure, from $28 million to $45 million. He has been architect of a financial strategy for tax-exempt financing of facilities construction, enabling $81 million in facilities expansions, including some $12 million in facilities for women’s programs. He increased the athletic association reserve fund from $1 million to $9.5 million over a five-year period. He is overseeing a $60 million capital campaign, the largest in athletic association history.

From 1998-2001, Evans served as a member of the NCAA Division I-A management council, the highest governance committee attainable by an athletic administrator. He is chair of the UGA academic task force charged with reviewing academic credentials of prospective student-athletes.

Evans has been offered a five-year contract with a base salary of $250,000 per year. Incentives of up to $50,000 additional per year may be negotiated. The agreement includes a buy-out clause equal to half the annual base pay which Evans must pay if he should terminate the contract prematurely.

Recruiting class includes No. 1 DE, No. 4 RB, No. 5 LB and lots of speed
Richt reloads

t’s 9:30 a.m. on National Signing Day, and already the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall is teeming with people in full red-and-black regalia. Cups of coffee steaming in their hands, a group of gray-haired Dog fans stands in a circle, dissecting the pass-oriented offense. On a brisk morning in February that has the distinct feel of Game Day, the atmosphere is one of excitement seasoned lightly with anxiety—though, as events will prove, there is no need to fret.

Vince Dooley had warm words to say about Evans, who played for him and has been his second in command since 1998.

With the football season opener versus Georgia Southern exactly seven months away, Dog fans delighted in periodic recruiting updates from coach Mark Richt.

The Bulldogs’ 2004 recruiting class actually began taking shape a year earlier, in February 2003, when Peach County’s junior quarterback A.J. Bryant made a promise to his dying father that he would play football for Georgia. Considered the nation’s No. 1 athlete by Rivals.com, Bryant is a dual-threat quarterback who threw for 5,103 yards in three years as a starter. Both Bryant and Blake Barnes of Baldwyn, Miss., enrolled early, practiced with the team, and suited up for the Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day. Barnes is a 6’3” drop-back passer whose 6,939 career passing yards and 82 career touchdowns earned him Gatorade Mississippi Player of the Year honors.

At 10:30 a.m., special teams coach Jon Fabris delivers an impromptu lecture on the virtues of walk-ons to an attentive crowd at Butts-Mehre. Meanwhile, over at the Blind Pig Tavern near the stadium, hungry fans breakfast on eggs, bacon, and pitchers of beer while listening to a remote broadcast from a local radio station. With the signing of multiple-sport athletes such as Bryant, who lettered in track and basketball while at Peach County, speed becomes the prevailing theme of this year’s class.

“I’m looking forward to watching these guys run the 40 (yard dash),” says coach Mark Richt, who makes several appearances to meet and update the crowd at Butts-Mehre.

Nowhere is the emphasis on speed more apparent than in this year’s class of defensive backs and receivers.

Stone Mountain defensive back Michael Grant, a member of the USA Today All-USA Boys Track and Field team, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds. Grant also won Class 5A 100- and 200-meter dash titles during his junior year. On the other side of the ball, Superprep All-America wide receiver Demiko Goodman of Newnan was 400-meter champion at the National Junior Olympics.

When Thomas Brown, the No. 4 running back in the country from Tucker, goes up on the board, the crowd woof-woof-woofs in appreciation. Stone Mountain’s Josh Johnson, ranked No. 5 nationally at linebacker by Rivals.com, is also a big crowd favorite.

By 2:15 p.m., the ’04 class is mostly set, with the exception of a much-anticipated decision from Colquitt County’s Brandon Miller, the nation’s No. 1 defensive end prospect. One fan, who was among the day’s earliest arrivals, is now asleep, sacked out next to Frank Sinkwich’s Heisman Trophy. Miller eventually signs with Georgia, but not before making the staff sweat it out until 5:30.

Once the afternoon’s press conference is concluded, quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo steps wearily into an elevator and smiles.

“It’s over,” he says with relief.

For now, yes. But the question of how good these prep stars will be at the college level is still to be determined. Some won’t live up to their press clippings, while others—in the tradition of Verron Haynes, David Pollack, and Thomas Davis—will far outshine their high school laurels. For Georgia fans, the excitement of National Signing Day is the realization that, come fall, any of these new Bulldogs could go from benchwarmer to game-breaker in the span of a Saturday afternoon.

— Josh Darnell

Football graduation rate (67 percent) was No. 1 among top 10 BCS teams
Dogs were standouts in the classroomDogs were standouts in the classroom, too

he latest NCAA graduation rate study shows that UGA’s football graduation rate of 67 percent was the highest among the top 10 teams in the final regular-season Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings.

In addition, Georgia’s four-year average football graduation rate of 62 percent ranks No. 1 in the SEC and No. 7 among the 56 schools participating in a bowl game this year, according to a study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

Another study showed that only two of the 28 bowl games this year featured teams graduating more than 50 percent of its football players—the Capital One Bowl (Georgia vs. Purdue) and the Houston Bowl (Navy vs. Texas Tech).

Among all 56 bowl teams, Georgia’s four-year average football graduation rate of 62 percent was surpassed only by Northwestern (83 percent), Boston College (79 percent), Virginia (76 percent), Tulsa (66 percent), Oregon (64 percent), and UCLA (63percent).


Landers win his 600th, Bauerle lands two phenoms, softball stadium christened with pitching perfection
Winter sports roundup

MEN'S BASKETBALL
Despite losing leading scorer Jarvis Hayes to the NBA, Dennis Felton's Dogs upset two top-five teams in January—Georgia Tech 83-80 in a double-OT thriller, then Kentucky 65-57 in Lexington. The latter shattered the Wildcats' 17-game SEC win streak—the seventh-longest in history. Point guard Rashad Wright set a new team record for career assists, but it was his work on defense that keyed two more upsets in February. The Dogs completed their second sweep of Kentucky in three years by knocking off the ninth-rated Cats 74-68 in Athens. Three nights later, Georgia drubbed pre-season No. 1 Florida 76-62 to push its record to 13-0, its RPI rating to 15—and rekindle hopes of an NCAA tournament bid.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
Andy Landers notched his 600th career win, putting him at No. 11 on the all-time women's coaching list. Freshman guard Janese Hardrick helped make the landmark victory possible, scoring 30 points in a 71-68 squeaker over Alabama. If her layup had fallen in the closing minute of play on Feb. 12, the Lady Dogs might’ve upset No. 3 Tennessee, which prevailed 70-67.

SWIMMING
The top-rated Lady Dogs went 11-0 during the pre-SEC/pre-NCAA segment of their schedule, including victories over three top 10 teams. The men were no slouches either, posting only their third nine-win season in the last 23 years. The recruiting news was also good. "This is huge," said coach Jack Bauerle, as he signed Atlanta phenoms Amanda Weir and Elizabeth Hill. Weir, a freestyler from Brookwood High, has been a national record-holder since the 12-and-under division. Last year, she swam the second-fastest 100-meter time in the world. Hill, a senior at Westminster, won gold medals in the 400-meter freestyle and the 800 relay at the Pan American Games.

GOLF
The third-ranked men’s golf team was looking to taste success in tournament play before the SEC Championships begin in April. Among the standouts is freshman Brendon Todd, whose shot 63 at this season’s Pate National Intercollegiate—the second-lowest round in school history. The seventh-ranked women’s team narrowly lost to Duke in the finals of the Hooters National Match Play Championship. They will host the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in March before heading to Baton Rouge for the SEC Championships.

GYMNASTICS
As GM went to press, the No. 2-ranked Gym Dogs were traveling to Tuscaloose to take on No. 1 Alabama in the final dual meet of the regular season. Senior Chelsa Byrd, who helped Georgia edge Alabama last year in Athens, scored the team’s first 10.0 of the season and sophomore Brittany Smith had one, too.

BASEBALL
The men’s baseball team will look to pitching and defense to compensate for the loss of five starters who signed pro contracts after last season. But hot bats fueled a 4-0 start, with as freshman Josh Morris homering three times.

SOFTBALL
Talk about a christening! Playing in its new stadium on South Milledge for the first time, Georgia got a combined no-hitter from Michelle Green and Kasi Carroll, followed by a perfect game from Katie Griffith to sweep a doubleheader over Virginia Tech and Appalachian State.

— Josh Darnell


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