Kirby Smart and Georgia's assistant coaches will soon be rewarded financially for the football team's success last season.
Their raises are one reason tickets to see the Bulldogs play will cost more. Speaking after Georgia's athletic board meeting on Jan. 30, athletics director Greg McGarity indicated raises are coming for many, if not all, of the coaches shortly after National Signing Day on Feb. 7.
"Coaches are focused on recruiting, so probably after recruiting's over, we'll get into that," McGarity said.
Providing raises for the football staff was one of the reasons McGarity cited when he proposed increasing football ticket prices, a motion Georgia’s athletic board unanimously passed.
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“We plan to make substantial adjustments to the compensation of our football staff,” McGarity said before the board voted, “which will necessitate these ticket increases.”
Added Georgia president Jere Morehead: “We have to recognize that football expenses have increased substantially in the past two years, and further increases are on the horizon. As our football program continues its upward trajectory, there are going to be coaching contracts that will need to be renegotiated.”
The football team's success has already made the athletic department more money than in years past. Revenue from ticket prices alone garnered $22.6 million as of December 2017 — a $3.5 million difference from the same time the previous year. This past season, Smart made a base salary of $3.75 million, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses for the team’s SEC Championship victory, Rose Bowl win and appearance in the national championship.
Smart’s salary last season made him the 23rd-highest paid coach in the country and eighth-highest paid coach in the SEC. The highest-paid coach in the country was Alabama’s Nick Saban, who earned over $11 million.
Some assistant coaches have already received pay bumps. According to an open records request filed by The Telegraph, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, offensive line coach Sam Pittman, wide receivers coach James Coley, running backs coach Dell McGee and quality control coordinator Jay Johnson have received raises.
As Georgia tries to maintain the football team’s upward trajectory, the aforementioned assistants and the rest of Georgia’s football coaches could earn more, which is one reason ticket prices increased.
“The one thing we all have to realize is that football's really our only source of significant revenue,” McGarity said. “In order to maintain our other 20 sports — it's not my intent to go to other programs and have cuts. It's not fair. It's not the Georgia model. We treat all sports equitably. This was a way to be able to fully fund those other sports at the same level.”