The University of Georgia moved quickly to promote Josh Brooks to Athletic Director to succeed the retiring Greg McGarity. When McGarity announced his retirement effective December 31, Brooks was named by university president Jere Morehead as the interim AD. Brooks rejoined Georgia in 2016 after serving as athletic director at Millsaps College and Deputy AD at Louisiana-Monroe. He was promoted to number two in Georgia’s department last January. The interim tag was removed by Morehead last Wednesday, January 6. Brooks’ promotion demonstrates the Georgia Way at its finest. Morehead expected McGarity’s retirement and indicated that he wanted a quick, smooth process to find his replacement. Though a committee was formed, and a search firm hired to vet candidates, it was a foregone conclusion that Brooks would get the job. Morehead knew Brooks well. Brooks,40, is a native of Hammond, Louisiana and holds a Bachelor’s degree from LSU and a Master’s degree from Georgia. He was first brought to Georgia in 2008 by Coach Mark Richt to serve as Director of Football Operations. During his two tenures, he has earned the reputation of a “detail guru.” He has overseen the recent huge athletic construction projects on campus. Darice Griffin has been promoted to his previous position as Senior Deputy Athletic Director. She was hired by the university in
December 2017. Larry Dunn was relieved of his duties as Thomson High Athletic Director in an emergency called meeting by the McDuffie County Board of Education on December 30. I was not at the basketball game on December 26, so it is not my intent to address the reasoning behind that decision because I do not know all the facts. The abrupt timing of this decision suggests that trust between Dunn and the board had eroded to an unsustainable point. The position of Athletic Director has been created by individual schools and local systems, not by the Georgia Department of Education or state school board. It is not mandated by law, so other than normal educational statutes and ethics, the position itself holds no legal standing in Georgia. Like coaches, the state’s Fair Dismissal Law does not protect the tenure of athletic directors. They serve solely at the pleasure of the local school board and they are hired and fired accordingly. Athletic salaries are funded locally. Each school board establishes its own job description and who supervises the athletic director. A well thought out plan works best but too often the role is developed through happenstance. I coached at schools where the AD was the head football coach supervised directly by the principal. It was the traditional way, with an ongoing dialogue between the two that provided a strong system of checks and balances. With athletics now so complicated, the jobs are too much for one person. Schools and systems get into trouble with athletics when they fail to acknowledge who they are and what they want to be. Smaller, rural, single high school systems like McDuffie, Warren and Burke cannot operate athletics like multi-school systems Columbia and Richmond. Oddly perhaps, there is more scrutiny on athletics in Thomson than in Augusta. Ask yourself, if ARC fired their AD during the holidays do you think there would be hundreds of comments on Facebook from people who have never attended a game? I do not. It is imperative that school administrations and boards determine their philosophy for athletics and build policies accordingly. Do they consider their program a recreational one to merely keep kids occupied and off the streets or a competitive one, where the values and teamwork taught by traveling to another town and competing against the scoreboard are worthwhile? Admittedly, the latter is misunderstood, distasteful, disinteresting, or all three to many current school leaders, but the Athletic Director must align with a core philosophy. Just as they do academics, school leadership should seriously analyze the needs and preferences of its’ stakeholders concerning athletics. Their most important constituency is the students. Their charge is to develop athletics within an educational environment, not a collegiate or professional one. Fans often forget that, wanting it to be like the University of Alabama or the NFL. Winning, however, should never be deemphasized. That reeks of apathy. A clear, concise chain of command from the top down prevents miscommunication. A competent athletic director accepts who is in charge and why. Lessening the links in the chain may work best. The AD answering directly to the Superintendent only is rare, but not unheard of. An AD should be a consensus builder and a facilitator, not a dictator. He or she must recognize and identify with the challenges of coaching. Hire them out of discernment, not convenience. Athletic Director is an important job. Treat it like one.