That was back in 2004 when he forced then-Athletic Director Vince Dooley into retirement. Several well-connected members of the UGA Foundation wanted Adams’ scalp because of how he handled the exit of the legendary football coach. Indeed, many Dawg fans still haven’t forgiven him for it.
But anyone who’s connected with Georgia’s flagship university can’t forget the huge improvements that occurred under Dr. Adams’ watch. Today, the institution is stronger and in better shape, academically and fiscally, thanks to his leadership — which is winding down.
Last week, the 64-year-old university president announced that he’s retiring after 16 years at the helm. His last day will be June 30, 2013. That gives him one more year for a final lap.
Dr. Adams has been a competitive, ambitious and even fearless leader. His push for a medical college and engineering school ruffled feathers from Augusta to Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
Yet all Georgians can take pride at where UGA is ranked, as one of the nation’s top 20 public research colleges and one of best bargains for undergrads. The university’s endowment has nearly tripled under Dr. Adams, from $249 million in 1997 to $746 million in 2011.
The Board of Regents will determine this week whether Dr. Adams walks away with a $2.7 million retirement package, to be spread over five years. It has some raised eyebrows. State Rep. Bill Hembree, a former chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, calls it “outrageous” and a “golden parachute.”
It’s true that paying out big bucks during an era of rising tuition smacks of poor timing. But you also should fairly pay people who perform well.
Dr. Adams’ annual base pay is $258,670. His total compensation, including sweeteners, is $660,318. By comparison, UGA football coach Mark Richt made more than $3 million for each of the past three seasons.
Mr. Richt is a good coach. But Dr. Adams has the more significant legacy. The Regents should pay him the money.
He earned it.