Should the Southeastern Conference adopt a uniform policy when it comes to dealing with student athletes who encounter run-ins with the law?
That idea has been bandied about by some, but in an exclusive interview with UGASports late Monday afternoon, new Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity isn't sure that would necessarily work.
"I think each institution has different sets of circumstances. It would be very difficult to have some consensus there, so I do think it's an institutional issue that each school has to approach," McGarity said. "There are just different sets of circumstances in every college town. Some towns do not have a vibrant local community and downtown. It's a culture that has been in place for a number of years and it's not something that you can turn around very quickly. It takes a long time to change habits. Athens is obviously a very vibrant community and has a very active downtown. I've noticed that when I've left eating establishments at 9 p.m., that things are going to pick up pretty quickly."
But McGarity acknowledged that recent arrests involving student athletes are concern.
Last week, running back Washaun Ealey became the eighth Bulldog football player to be arrested this year on various charges.
"It's a concern. It's a concern to any athletic association. It's a concern to the university when you have students, non-athletes that run afoul of things. I think what it is a continuous learning situation. You've got to make sure you've got systems in place and continue to educate and drill into place that the students must be held accountable and if you're not accountable then there are consequences to suffer."
McGarity said he will spend the coming weeks learning what procedures are already in place before deciding if any changes will be made regarding the Bulldogs' current policy in dealing with offenders.
"You've just got to do everything you can to educate and being I'm just in my first days on the job I'm really not sure what that effort is," he said. "I'm sure it's good. Can it be strengthened? I'm sure it's like anything else, you can strengthen rules and regulations that you have so I know our staff will be focused on that."
In the meantime, McGarity said he'll also spend his first weeks on the job getting to know each of Georgia's coaches and meeting as many students as possible.
"I'm about a third of the way there and my goal is to meet with all the student athletes," he said. "I met with the football team today and I'm going to meet the other sports within the next two weeks so at least I can introduce myself and let them know that they will see a familiar face at their events."
McGarity spent Monday getting used to his new digs at the Butts-Mehre Building.
Originally slated to start work on Sept. 1, McGarity decided to do so two days early. He'll meet the rest of the press prior to Mark Richt's weekly press conference at Stegeman Coliseum to preview the Bulldogs' opener against the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
"It's great to get back, now the next step is learning how to run the hills of Athens. I've had two or three jogs already and I've had to catch myself. I'm used to the flat running, but no, it's been great," McGarity said. "The staff has been great; everybody has been very accommodating and everything. It's really been overwhelming."
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