With the dismissal of Damon Evans, the focus inside the Butts-Mehre Building at the University of Georgia now turns to his successor as Athletic Director.
A familiar firm seems likely to lead the search.
Zach Klein of WSB-TV in Atlanta (he has been at the forefront of coverage since the Evans scandal broke) reports that Parker Executive Search of Atlanta will recommend the new AD. Headed up by Georgia alum Dan Parker, the group is well-respected in college athletics and previously played a significant role in the hiring of Dr. Michael Adams as President, Evans as Athletic Director, and Mark Fox as Men’s Basketball coach (although those first two names might not provide much confidence for some Bulldog fans).
While the Parker firm typically keeps a tight lid on research and recommendations, here are pros and cons of four potential search targets, plus two that should be considered. Click on any name for a bio link.
Greg McGarity (Florida)
Pros: Without question, Greg McGarity will be the favored choice of rank-and-file Bulldog fans. A native Athenian, a UGA alum, and a former varsity athlete (tennis), McGarity paid his dues at various assignments within the Georgia athletic department before moving to Florida in 1992. He has an even and friendly disposition, and has worked for two of the premier intercollegiate leaders of the last three decades (Vince Dooley at Georgia and Jeremy Foley at Florida). A safe, seasoned, and sound choice.
Cons: Although McGarity was long gone before the Michael Adams-Vince Dooley saga of the late 1990s, the president might see him as too closely allied with the Bulldog legend.
Eric Hyman (South Carolina)
Pros: The well-respected AD of the Gamecocks has the kind of curriculum vitae that would quickly turn the head of an academician like Michael Adams. Top man in Columbia since 2005, Hyman was formerly athletic director at TCU, Miami of Ohio, and VMI. A prolific fund-raiser and national leader among his peers, Hyman would certainly bring steadiness, experience, and prestige to Athens. He was reportedly a finalist when Evans was hired.
Cons: While Georgia is probably a more nationally recognized department (keep in mind the Gamecocks just won the College Baseball World Series) than SC, the move could be seen as a lateral one. Also, Hyman and his family are Carolinians (he and his wife are UNC grads, and Eric also earned a masters degree at Furman).
Carla (Green) Williams (Georgia)
Pros: A former varsity basketball star for the Lady Dogs, Williams would bring continuity to what appears from the exterior to be a smoothly functioning department. She also carries a bit of academic heft having earned a Ph.D. in sport management from Florida State (although she has never published or presented research to my knowledge). The prospect of naming the first female athletic director in the SEC would probably be appealing to the always image-conscious Adams. It would be difficult seeing her stand up to the powerful president either (which would be a pro for her hiring prospects).
Cons: The hiring of Williams would promote someone young, only moderately experienced, and would come with more than just a whiff of political correctness. Would seem simply a distaff Damon Evans hire to many.
Mark Lewis (Jet Set Sports)
Pros: Do not let the cartoonish company name fool you, Mark Lewis brings more business credentials to the table than any of the other candidates for the position. Son of former Bulldog defensive coordinator Bill Lewis, Mark grew up in Athens, attended Clarke Central High, and was a long-snapper for the Bulldogs. Boasting experience with the U.S. Olympic Committee, at General Electric, and now at Jet Set (an international event planning company for the Olympics), Lewis has overseen budgets that dwarf even that of a large athletic department. Still has ties to Athens as his brother Geoff is a teacher and coach in nearby Oconee County. Lewis would be a somewhat bold choice.
Cons: Lack of experience as an athletic director would be the first that jumps out, although his business background would likely supersede such concerns. One thing he might not be able to overcome is his link to the Dooley years. His dad was Vince’s defensive coordinator for nearly a decade.
Two others that deserve consideration:
Claude Felton … one of the top sports media people in the nation, Felton is universally admired within the UGA athletic department and throughout college athletics generally. Retained (apparently after some reservations by Adams/Evans) when he was passed over for Evans, Felton has remained a steadfast part of the Bulldog operation. Not an exciting pick perhaps, but Michael Adams could do much worse.
Frank Crumley … Typically considered second in command to Evans, Frank Crumley is a senior associate AD in charge of finance. With Georgia annually ranking as one of the most profitable departments in the nation, Crumley deserves much of the credit for keeping a close eye on all those Bulldog bucks. Talented, relatively young, and seen as an up-and-comer, his candidacy might be tainted by his close ties to Damon Evans (although it shouldn’t be).