Richt's new deal '98 percent' done

ATHENS, Ga. -- The UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors' quarterly meeting Wednesday brought little in the way of decisive action, but plenty of discussion of what is on the horizon.

Included in the discussions were contract talks, the possibility of a college football playoff and scheduling possibilities in the newly reconfigured 14-team SEC.

The board -- which had two members openly express concerns about the direction of Georgia’s football program at its last meeting -- met in executive session to discuss a contract extension for head football coach Mark Richt.

“We’re pretty close,” UGA president Michael Adams said. “There’s some lawyering to be done yet, but we’re in 98 percent agreement and the other 2 percent is just minor details.”

Adams said afterward that Richt’s was the only football coach contract discussed behind closed doors, although athletic director Greg McGarity noted that he is in the preliminary stages of talks about a contract extension with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

Grantham recently completed the second year of a three-year contract that pays $750,000 per year. He has expressed an interest in staying at Georgia, and McGarity said the feeling is mutual.

“I’m going to call him back probably sometime today and start talking about it,” McGarity said. “And so I would think I’ll probably have to give him something in writing when we talk about the general parameters of what we want to do.”

Future regular-season and postseason scheduling formats came up during the meeting -- subjects that Adams and McGarity addressed in greater detail with reporters afterward.

Adams expressed his belief that a four- or eight-team postseason football playoff will be in place by 2014, when the next BCS contract begins.

“I don’t say this about very much, but I think we were actually at the front of the train on that issue. I could see it coming down the track and I think we will end up with something that the fans feel better about,” said Adams, who proposed an eight-team playoff format four years ago, only to have that plan squashed by opposition from the Big Ten and what was then the Pac-10.

“We may never get anything that the fans feel perfectly happy about, but one of my major concerns all along has been that I didn’t think we were paying enough attention to the fans who foot the bill for all this. I think that realization is beginning to come home.”

Today, Adams said, the other conferences are more receptive to the playoff discussion.

“The signals that you all saw that the Big Ten and the Pac-12, as it is now, sent in the last few days indicates that those talks are moving forward and our commissioner [Mike Slive] has been at the table as part of those talks,” he said. “But I’m going to let him provide the details when they’re ready.”

McGarity also elaborated afterward on brief comments during the meeting about upcoming SEC schedule talks. The league’s athletic directors will meet at the end of the month to discuss scheduling for 2013 and beyond -- talks that will include debate on whether to use an eight- or nine-game conference schedule and how to split games between East and West Division teams.

It’s still too early to predict an outcome, but McGarity said it is not out of the realm of possibilities that annual cross-divisional games like Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee could be sacrificed in the new format.

“I’m still kind of focused on an eight-game, what we have now. Nine, I haven’t really looked at what nine would do,” McGarity said. “I’ve just been focused on who would your two West teams be and how fast would it take you, if Auburn stayed on, how fast would it take you to rotate through the other six teams. It would take a long time.”

In other board talks:

* Compliance director Jim Booz discussed two pieces of NCAA legislation that are under discussion.

He said a proposal that would allow schools to offer multiyear scholarships of up to five years is “still in the pipeline” and should come up for a vote in the near future.

Booz also discussed a proposal that would increase the value of athletic scholarships with a stipend of as much as $2,000. He said that legislation remains in the works, although the NCAA pushed back a vote on the matter at its January convention in order to ensure its legality.

“We walked up to the edge of doing something significant and didn’t have the oomph to get it over the top,” Adams said.

* Senior vice president for finance and administration Tim Burgess shared the Athletic Association’s budget projections for fiscal year 2012, including a projected $2,270,935 in unallocated funds available to add to its reserves.

* The board unanimously approved three facility funding requests, totaling $3.83 million:

1. $2.6 million for a scoreboard control room that would be housed at Sanford Stadium and would be able to control the video boards at other facilities on campus, including Stegeman Coliseum and Foley Field. The unit would contain space for an HD TV studio capable of producing live programming, as well.

2. $480,000 for new furniture in the SkySuites on the South Side of Sanford Stadium.

3. $750,000 for renovations to the Callaway Room at the Rankin Smith academic center. The renovations would break the current banquet hall into a series of smaller spaces that would accommodate more one-on-one and small-group study sessions per week.