From time to time, as circumstances warrant, AthensPolitics.com will give recognition to deserving Athens area public figures.
The honor of being the first recipient goes to Dr. Michael Adams, President of the University of Georgia, on the occasion of his refusing to extend Athletic Director Vince Dooley's contract.
Dr. Adams may well have had good reason. He broke no law or rule that we know of. On the other hand, he has made no argument that the Athletic Department will be better run by another. His decision has no upside for Adams beyond having an AD who is beholden to Adams for his position and whom he dislikes a bit less.
The problem is that Adams seems to have grossly underestimated the downside. That downside is the reaction of hundreds of thousands of rabid Bulldog fans to whom Dooley is a god. Among these fans are numerous contributors to the university. They have no interest in the school beyond sports, and could care less if UGA leads in Bioscience research of has an outstanding Philosophy department. Many of them are not alumni. They are incensed by what they see as Dooley's firing, and are out for revenge. At present they are withholding contributions to the general fund, but continuing to contribute to the Athletic Association. The bad press is beginning to go national, primarily in the sports news.
The fans have long memories and a measure of political influence. The knives will be out for Adams for the forseeable future.
Update: Wed, Jul 2, 2003:
Yesterday Dr. Adams came under fire from the trustees of the University Foundation. Channel 5 reported that his use of Foundation funds was called into question. He was criticized for, among other things, chartering an airplane to attend President Bush's inauguration. He is treated more kindly in the Journal-Constitution today, but the point still comes across. A motion for a vote of no confidence was tabled, and will be acted upon later.
Update: Thu, Jul 10, 2003
Dick Yarbrough's assessment in this morning's Banner-Herald is that there will be no winners. He is undoubtedly right.
Update: Sat, Jul 12, 2003
Vince's brother-in-law chimes in with a Forum in the Banner-Herald.
Update: Sun, Jul 13, 2003
Yet another editorial from the pages of the Banner-Herald, in which note is taken that UGA is fast becoming a national joke.
Update: Tue, Jul 15, 2003
Front page stories in the Banner -Herald and Journal-Constitution report the petition drive by axe-adams.com. War hero Chris Carter of Watkinsville will help deliver the petitions. And Boortz will be on the case today on his nationally syndicated talk show.
Update: Wed, Jul 16, 2003
The Banner-Herald again leads with a story on the support for Dooley and the fan demand for Adams ouster. In the Journal-Constitution coverage is ralegated to the sports section where it will be read by more Georgia fans.
Update: Fri, Jul 18, 2003
Adams: "What, me worry?"