ATHENS — After a long apprenticeship at Georgia’s rival, Greg McGarity is returning home to take the reins of his alma mater’s athletics department.
McGarity has been chosen as the next athletics director at Georgia and will arrive in Athens on Friday, according to a source.
Georgia has not confirmed the various media reports saying McGarity has been hired, and no news conference had been announced as of late Thursday evening. McGarity also did not return a message left on his cell phone.
But Georgia head football coach Mark Richt said he spoke Thursday with interim athletics director Frank Crumley, who relayed that “there would be an announcement soon.”
“I’ve been hearing rumors, like everybody else,” Richt said. “But I’ve not been told (who will be hired).”
McGarity, an Athens native, was long considered a natural fit to replace Damon Evans, who resigned in disgrace last month.
McGarity is a 1976 graduate of Georgia, with a degree in journalism. He was the Bulldogs’ women’s tennis coach and assistant sports information director from 1977-1982. Then he became an assistant athletics director, handling facility and event management under then-athletics director Vince Dooley.
Florida hired him in 1992 as an associate athletics director. McGarity has been there since, working under athletics director Jeremy Foley, regarded as one of the most powerful people in college sports.
McGarity’s wife, Sheryl, was also a 1976 graduate of Georgia. Their son Alex will be a senior at Florida this year.
Former N.C. State athletics director Les Robinson, who recently retired from The Citadel, dealt with McGarity when scheduling a football game between Florida and The Citadel. Robinson said he would hire McGarity at a major school “in a heartbeat.”
“Growing up there, knowing it inside and out, he has a better perspective than someone coming in who doesn’t have a clue,” Robinson said. “He’s got both sides: SEC and Florida, a school that the last decade has been pretty productive in football and basketball. He’s watched it and seen it. Here he is — yet a Georgia man.
“I think he can be very successful there. His demeanor, his reputation in athletics. All those things are big pluses. Especially at this stage of the game. His reputation is A-1. And that to me is important at this stage at Georgia, on who they hire.”
Evans, the first black athletics director in SEC history, was forced out last month after an embarrassing arrest. He was charged with driving under the influence, and a 28-year-old woman who was not his wife and was in the passenger seat was charged with disorderly conduct.
The incident happened minutes before Evans’ new five-year contract, valued at $550,000 annually, went into effect.
Dee Matthews, head of the Bulldog Club in Albany, first met McGarity when he was an instructor at a Georgia tennis camp in the 1970s.
“I’ve kept up with him through the years. I just kept hoping he’d come back to Georgia some day,” Matthews said. “He’s another person who Georgia fans can relate to. … He’s had some good training down there in Florida. I think he would be a great fit.”