Mark Richt finalizes deal, saying, ‘Georgia’s the only job I want’

semerson@macon.comJune 7, 2012 

ATHENS -- Mark Richt finally has his new contract and with it a good bit of freedom. So now the multimillionaire is going to Waffle House.

Richt’s new contract as the football head coach at Georgia was at last finalized Thursday, six months after he and his boss initiated talks. The new deal, which will go through the 2016 season, was approved Thursday evening by the UGA athletic board.

If he fulfills every year of the deal, Richt will have been the Bulldogs coach for 16 years, the third-longest tenure in school history.

“Georgia’s my home. Georgia is where I want to be. Georgia’s the only job I want, the only job I have ever wanted as a head coach,” Richt said. “That’s the way it’s always been from the very beginning, and that hasn’t changed. My mom, my dad, my brother, my two sisters, they all live in Athens. I mean, this is my home, this is where I want to be.”

Richt, who entered last season on the proverbial hot seat, first started talking with athletics director Greg McGarity about a new deal in December, the week of the SEC championship game.

Most of the contract details -- length, the fact there is no change in base salary -- already had been revealed. The biggest revelation is that the buyout is reduced on both sides -- to nothing, in Richt’s case.

Richt will now be free to leave Georgia at any time, whether it be for another job or to resign, without any financial penalty. That was McGarity’s idea, according to both men.

“At the end of the day, I’ve always believed that money should not be a determining factor in people staying,” McGarity said. “That should not be an anchor around anyone’s neck. Life’s too short.”

McGarity said he had no concern about the new deal creating any perception that Richt could now leave at any time.

“I think people are gonna twist it and say whatever they want to about it. But I’m just telling you the truth. I’m telling you how it is between Mark and myself,” McGarity sad. “There’s no monkey business here.”

Meanwhile, Georgia’s obligation if Richt is fired has also been reduced. If he’s fired at the end of the 2012 season, Richt will be owed $4.8 million. After that, it will be $2.4 million, going down by $600,000 each season. But McGarity said further extensions are likely.

Richt’s guaranteed salary is still $2.811,340. That places him fifth among SEC coaches.

But his incentives are now doubled, adding up to a possible $800,000. For instance, by winning the SEC championship Richt would now receive $200,000, as opposed to $100,000 under his old contract.

So what took so long to finalize the contract? McGarity said the main “deal points” were hammered out in January. It was smaller details, such as tax issues, that had to be worked out before it was finalized.

“I don’t think anybody was working at breakneck speed on it the whole time through with it,” Richt said.

A few months ago, Richt and Mark Fox, the Georgia men’s basketball head coach, decided that when Richt finally signed his contract, they would hold a celebratory meal -- at a Waffle House.

“But I don’t know how many months ago that was. I don’t think he’s forgotten it, and neither have I,” Richt said. “So one of these days we’ll be at the Waffle House.”

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