Georgia’s national champion football team takes the field Saturday in Athens for its annual G-Day scrimmage, hoping to successfully answer questions about its future prospects. Meanwhile, the school’s athletic department has been failing to provide information about its past profits.
To date, Georgia is the only public, Power Five school that has not publicly released its 2021 NCAA Financial Reporting System data, either of its own volition or in response to open records requests. The annual revenue and expense reports, which inform Sportico’s intercollegiate finances database, were due to the NCAA on or before Jan. 15. (Pittsburgh, which is designated a “state-related” institution within Pennsylvania’s higher education system, and therefore exempt from the commonwealth’s open record laws, has also not provided their latest FRS report.)
In previous years, Georgia has been among the most proactive schools in making this information public, voluntarily posting its FRS reports on the athletic department’s website by no later than mid-February.
Why the hold-up this time? Georgia isn’t saying.
The university has declined to respond to numerous email and phone inquiries made by Sportico over the last three months about when the latest report would be made available.
On Jan. 21, the university’s open records manager, Bob Taylor, informed Sportico that it was slated to be published online between the end of that month and beginning of February, explaining that its dissemination had been “a little delayed” on account of Georgia’s participation in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
On Jan. 29, the school’s athletics spokesperson Claude Felton said he would “check on it,” when asked of the report’s status, but hasn't responded to repeated follow-ups in the 11 weeks since. Ditto for Georgia’s deputy athletic director Stephanie Ransom, the primary contact listed on Georgia’s previous FRS reports, as well as school CFO Ryan Nesbitt.
The Peach State has an unusual statutory accommodation for its public university athletic departments. Under the so-called “Kirby’s Law” exemption to the Georgia Open Records Act—in honor of Bulldogs head football coach Kirby Smart, who lobbied the legislature for the provision—the Bulldogs are not legally required to respond to open records requests until 90 business days after they are submitted.
The 2021 NCAA FRS reports, which cover the fiscal year ending last June, encapsulate the first full academic year since the COVID-19 outbreak and the college football season that was most affected by the pandemic.
For the 2019-20 season, Georgia’s athletic department reported spending $139 million total, including a nation-leading $3.82 million on recruiting. The Bulldogs also had the second-most profitable football program among public FBS schools, netting nearly $85 million.
(This article has been corrected in the eighth paragraph to reflect that Georgia law does not require responses to records requests for 90 business days, rather than 90 days as originally reported.)