GA News: OnlineAthens - UGA AD McGarity on decision to play South Carolina game Sunday and sen

TideFans Reporter

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Sep 21, 2006
October 7th, 2016 10:42 AM

While Georgia’s football operations staff was on the ground in Columbia making sure a new site for the team to stay in met its needs, athletic director Greg McGarity Friday morning laid out some behind the scenes maneuvering that led to the rescheduled game at South Carolina being pushed back a day.
When it became clear that Hurricane Matthew posed a threat, Georgia offered up Sanford Stadium to host the game early in the week and as late as Thursday, but University of South Carolina officials believed they had the necessary support to hold the game in Williams-Brice Stadium.
The hurricane forced 280,000 evacuees from South Carolina’s coast before the powerful storm moves toward the state’s coast Saturday, but the SEC and its commissioner, Greg Sankey, made the final call and the game will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday on the SEC Network.
"Throughout the discussions, I think everybody wanted to play the game because there’s just not a way to really make it up,” McGarity said. “South Carolina is open next week and we’re open before the Florida game. There really weren’t any makeup dates and we knew because of the city of Columbia being able to support it, we felt confident that the game could be played in Columbia.”
The schools only considered playing the game Saturday night or Sunday and decided to delay the game 19 hours when strong wind and rain aren’t expected to be a factor.
Cancellation was an option in a situation that seemed to change “by the hour,” McGarity said.
“I think everything was on the table,” McGarity said.
Meteorologists at the University of South Carolina were keeping abreast of the hurricane and its movements throughout the day Thursday, McGarity said.
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp announced the game’s move to Sunday at the end of his radio show after talking to Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner. About 20 minutes later, according to McGarity’s timeline, a final conference call was held that Georgia football coach Kirby Smart, was on about the game and “we were all in agreement that this was the right thing to do.”
Georgia football players had left the practice facility more than an hour earlier after practicing, not knowing exactly when the game they were getting ready for would be played.
Gov. Nikki Haley has said state troopers would not be able to work the game, but local authorities reinforced to the South Carolina staff that they could step up on game day.
The biggest issue on Georgia’s end, McGarity said, was the hotel for the team and its staff.
“We did not want to be in the position of having anything to do with displacing evacuees,” McGarity said. “That is something that would not have been acceptable at any level.”
South Carolina pointed Georgia, which had been planning on using some 130 rooms at a Holiday Inn, to a federal government training facility on campus used by the judicial system that is not accessible to the public, McGarity said.
“South Carolina felt very comfortable that they could be able to accommodate a group of essential staff members and obviously student-athletes in a manner that would be very similar to us staying in a public hotel,” McGarity said referring to team meeting rooms and eating meals.
The team will stay at the federal facility on Saturday night if the accommodations are deemed suitable after being looked at by UGA director of football operations Josh Lee and four other staff members.
Georgia has another fallback place to use that also would not displace evacuees from hotel rooms.
“The safety for everyone involved was No. 1,” McGarity said. “We never talked about finances; we never talked about money or what it would cost for any of these options. It was strictly based on could the city of Columbia support this game from a safety standpoint, EMT standpoint and be able to pull it off. Ray and his staff were very comfortable after speaking to the sherrif that that would be able to happen.”
Despite a report this week that there was a “good chance” that the game would be played in the Georgia Dome, one that the venue refuted, McGarity said he was not aware of any discussions of playing the game anywhere besides Columbia.
McGarity said on 680 AM that he “never had any discussion at all about the Georgia Dome. I’m not sure how that ever manifested itself or people just guessing or who knows?”
With the game moved to Sunday, McGarity said the NCAA’s “20-hour rule” which mandates time restrictions for players “will be addressed” with the SEC office but didn’t anticipate any problems.
Georgia’s coaching staff will have one less day to get ready for Vanderbilt a week from Saturday.
“I’ll tell you what Kirby and his staff have been fantastic,” McGarity said. “They understand the dynamics.”


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