St. Simons Island - UGA President Jere Morehead revealed Friday that Georgia football coach Kirby Smart and his wife, Mary Beth, have given a “significant donation” to the university’s Terry College of Business, which resulted in a classroom being named in their honor when the final phase of that school’s construction project is completed this summer.
“A very ‘smart’ classroom,” Morehead quipped.
Kirby and Mary Beth Smart graduated with finance degrees from the Terry College. Morehead could not say how much money they donated.
“Enough to get a classroom named after them,” said Morehead, who approved Smart’s $7 million annual salary last year.
The Smarts did not respond to messages seeking comment.
A dedication of the three-phase project that produced three massive new buildings on the corner of Lumpkin and Baxter Streets will be dedicated this fall.
At the Georgia Athletic Association’s end-of-year retreat Friday, the board approved a record budget of $153.89 million for Fiscal Year 2020, which begins July 1. That is an increase of more than $10 million from last year’s budget ($143.32 M). Together with last year’s budget increase of $16 million, Georgia’s budget has grown by $26 million in the last two years.
The athletics board underscored Friday that Kirby Smart’s contributions to football are resulting in a lot of contributions to the athletic department. His Bulldogs are 32-10 in three seasons, having won an SEC Championship and played for a national title.
Matt Borman, the GAA’s director of development, revealed that Smart is intimately involved in the Bulldogs’ fundraising efforts. He initiated the change of format of the Georgia Bulldog Club’s annual coaches’ caravan to put the emphasis on donor dinners. Borman said Smart also regularly has lunches with individual donors in his office and at times will make fund-raising visits with major givers when his schedule will allow.
“Kirby is unbelievable with his time,” Borman said. “Obviously he is a great salesman for his program. We’ve been able to take advantage of the time he’s giving us. Those lunches in his office has led to some major gifts being closed.”
Said Athletic Director Greg McGarity: “We can see why Kirby is such a great recruiter because he connects so well with our fan base. He knows so many people and he’s able to talk about the University of Georgia in a certain way because he’s been there and experienced it. He and Mary Beth value their degrees from Terry and he’s passionate about it.”
Smart’s program also benefits, of course. Details remain vague, but the Bulldogs are in the midst of raising money for a new football building, the price tag for which might exceed $80 million. Together with the Payne Indoor Athletic Center, the West End renovation and locker room expansion at Sanford Stadium and other projects, that’s more than $175 million in facility improvements for the football team since Smart came on board four years ago.