GREENSBORO, Ga. -- Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity proposed more than $1 million in renovations to Foley Field in a presentation before the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors on Thursday. He revealed after the board meeting that baseball coach David Perno will be around to see those renovations.
Although Perno’s Bulldogs (31-26, 14-15 SEC) are at risk of missing the NCAA tournament after losing their last four games -- the last two of the regular season at hapless Alabama and both games in the SEC tournament -- McGarity confirmed that he wants Perno to remain as Georgia’s coach.
“We’ll sit down at the end of the season,” McGarity said. “Dave will be back next year. It’s not even an issue.”
The Bulldogs have largely struggled since finishing as the national runner-up in 2008. They were ranked No. 1 for parts of the 2009 season in various polls, but finished 38-24 after being eliminated in NCAA regional play, followed by an historically bad 2010 season that saw Georgia post a 16-37 overall record and 5-23 mark in SEC play.
Georgia rebounded last year with an at-large NCAA tournament bid, but might miss the tournament for the second time in three years.
McGarity said Perno has also been forced to deal with traumatic injuries suffered by two players -- Chance Veazey, who was paralyzed by injuries suffered in a scooter crash in 2009, and Johnathan Taylor, who was also paralyzed when he broke his neck colliding with teammate Zach Cone while chasing a fly ball during a 2010 game against Florida State -- and health concerns within his own family.
“Dave’s had a lot of issues off the field the last three years,” McGarity said. “Chance Veazey, JT. He’s dealing with some struggles right now that it’s hard for us to comprehend doing our job, much less your real job.”
The board approved $1.35 million for renovations to Foley Field that would create a canopy of healthy new trees that border the left-field fence from the foul pole to the batter’s eye in center field and would clean up the “Kudzu Hill” pavilion beyond the right-field fence that McGarity described as an eyesore. The board also approved a $1 million plan for scoreboards at Georgia’s baseball, softball and soccer stadiums that would have full video capability.
Part of McGarity’s baseball-specific request was also designated to initiate plans for an estimated $10 million renovation of Foley Field. The facelift would include updates to the stadium’s façade; dugouts, locker rooms and batting cages; an expanded press box; elevator and ramp access to bring the stadium up to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance; expanded concourse, ticket booth, concessions and restrooms; and a renovation to the entryway at the stadium’s main gate.
McGarity did not want to place a timetable on when the full expansion project, but said he hoped to begin fundraising immediately. He hopes to raise at least $5 million of the necessary funds before finalizing any renovation plans.
The board will likely re-examine the issue at its next meeting in the fall -- but McGarity said he hopes to begin moving on the project as soon as possible.
“I want to go. I’m not one to sit around,” said McGarity, who noted that the 2014 season is the absolute earliest such a renovation project could be completed. “As soon as we can get it done the right way.”