Dear Georgia Tech Fans,
First and foremost, I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. As we continue to navigate through this unprecedented situation together, I have heard from many of you that have very good questions about how the events that have unfolded over the past few weeks might affect Georgia Tech athletics, both now and in the future. Unfortunately, in a lot of instances, the answer is simply “we don’t know yet.” However, I will try my best to answer some of the questions that I have been asked most frequently.
How have student-athletes and staff adjusted to being away from campus?
As I’m sure many of you know, Georgia Tech has shifted to virtual learning for the remainder of the spring semester and through the summer semester. I’d like to start off by saying thank you to the Institute’s administration, faculty and staff. Making the shift to virtual learning for 30,000-plus students in just two weeks is no easy task, yet they made it happen for Georgia Tech students. Within our department, I have been so impressed by our student-athletes’ positive attitudes and determination to make the best of this trying situation. I have also been impressed by our staff’s ability to adjust so quickly and continue to offer our student-athletes the support that they need to continue to develop at a high level, both athletically and academically. This has been exemplified by our academic staff needing less than two weeks to move all of our academic services – including tutoring and advising sessions – into a virtual setting to help our student-athletes excel in their new virtual learning environment. The vast majority of our staff is working from home, with the focus on continuing to provide our student-athletes the support that they need to be successful.
Did the men’s basketball program meet the requirements of its postseason ban?
Yes. Although there was some speculation in the media and among fans about whether our men’s basketball program met the conditions of its NCAA competition penalty (postseason ban) due to this year’s ACC Tournament not being completed and all national postseason tournaments being canceled, we recently received official confirmation from the NCAA Committee on Infractions that we met the conditions of the penalty by not participating in this year’s ACC Tournament. We are fully eligible to participate in postseason play next season – this includes the ACC and NCAA Tournaments. I am very happy for our student-athletes that we no longer have that cloud hanging over us and I am very excited for the future of our men’s basketball program.
What are your thoughts on the NCAA granting an additional season of eligibility for spring sports student-athletes?
I am happy that the NCAA Division I Council approved a waiver for student-athletes who participate in spring sports to gain an extra year of eligibility. I think it was the right thing to do following the unprecedented events that led to the cancellation of their 2020 seasons. There are still a lot of details to be worked out but, as always, our No. 1 priority is acting in the best interests of our student-athletes, and we’ll proceed with that priority in mind.
How is the current situation affecting Athletics Initiative 2020?
I’m very happy and grateful to report that AI 2020 remains very much on track. Thanks to very generous donors, we had a strong fundraising month for AI 2020 in March, despite the circumstances. We are now just $5 million shy of reaching the $70 million goal for the crown jewel of AI 2020, the new Edge/Rice Building. Being so close to the goal has allowed us to begin the process of securing financing and finalizing the final scope and design of this cornerstone project. AI 2020, and the Edge/Rice Building in particular, remain a top priority for us because of the role that it will play in the wellness and the athletic, academic and professional development of our student-athletes for generations to come.
Why did you push back the deadline for football season-ticket renewals and the on-sale date for single-game tickets to the “Mayhem at MBS” game against Notre Dame at Mercedes-Benz Stadium?
The answer for both questions is that we wanted to allow our fans some extra time to determine the ticket options that are best for them. Traditionally, many of our most loyal fans – our season-ticket members – wait until the last week of the renewal period to lock in their tickets for the following season, and have been doing so for years. Therefore, we felt that fans who were in the midst of adjusting to new circumstances caused by COVID-19 would benefit from having two extra weeks to submit their renewals. As for single-game tickets for Mayhem at MBS versus Notre Dame, which were originally scheduled to go on sale this week, we felt that many of our fans would benefit from some extra time to decide which ticket option is best for them, as we remain committed to Georgia Tech fans having access to the best seats in the house for this historic game. Just a reminder that if you want to lock in tickets for Mayhem at MBS instead of waiting until single-game tickets go on sale, you can do so now by purchasing a season-ticket package or a Stinger Pass.
Finally, I want to communicate to all of our fans that we want to be flexible during this unprecedented time. If you’d like to purchase football season tickets but need to discuss flexible payment options, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-TECH TIX to discuss options with a member of our ticket office staff.
Were you disappointed by the announcement that the Masters will be played the same weekend as Mayhem at MBS?
Quite the contrary. I think that the announcement that the Masters will be played on the same weekend as Mayhem at MBS gives our fans, particularly those coming from out of town, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of two extraordinary sporting events in one weekend – the Jackets vs. the Irish at the world’s greatest football stadium in Atlanta, preceded and/or followed by a trip to Augusta for the Masters. I truly think that there are many fans that will take advantage of the opportunity and I’m excited that it has worked out this way.
What is the financial impact of the current situation on Georgia Tech athletics?
We’re still assessing how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect our athletics program financially. As you probably saw, the NCAA recently announced that annual financial distributions to member institutions would be significantly lower this year, due primarily to the cancellation of the Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. However, we’re still processing the financial ramifications of that announcement at the ACC and institutional levels. Additionally, we will have a loss of ticket and concessions revenue due to the cancellation of our spring seasons – particularly baseball, where we offered refunds to season-ticket members for their full investment in 2020 season tickets. However, there are also some operational savings, which come mainly from the cancellation of spring sport competitions (home and away) and recruiting travel. All of that being said, while it’s too early to tell exactly what that impact of COVID-19 on our finances will be, we anticipate it exceeding $3 million.
Will fall sports be able to start on time?
We are fully planning for our fall sports seasons to go off as scheduled, including the highly anticipated football season opener versus Clemson on Sept. 3, under the lights at Bobby Dodd Stadium. That said, while we are going to continue to proceed with planning for our fall seasons to begin as scheduled, we will follow the lead of the Institute, the University System of Georgia, the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia and public health experts to determine when it is safe and appropriate to resume with sports. I cannot emphasize this enough – the health and safety of our student-athletes and our entire community is our No. 1 priority and that will be our guiding principle as we continue to navigate this unprecedented situation. I do know this – following the directives of our public health experts is paramount. So please continue to stay at home as much as possible, practice social distancing at all times and wash your hands often. Most importantly, it saves lives. But secondarily, it will help us get back to doing the things that we love to do sooner rather than later.
In closing, I would just like to say that while this is a devastating situation for so many people across the world, the silver lining for me is that I feel that it has put the very best of Georgia Tech on display. I am sure that many of you have seen stories about our campus and our community coming together during this difficult time. Georgia Tech faculty and students have not only been lending a hand to those in need, but also finding innovative solutions to the challenges we face locally, nationally and globally. I have never been prouder to be a Yellow Jacket and a part of this remarkable Institute.
In the words of Coach Collins: Stay Safe. Stay Positive. Stay Strong. I can’t wait to get to the other side of this and welcome the Georgia Tech family back to The Flats!
Together We Swarm,
Director of Athletics