Using state public records laws, VICE Sports obtained expense reports filed by several public university head football coaches. In this occasional series, we will highlight some of the expenses filed by some of America's highest-paid university employees. Today, we take a look at the University of Georgia's former coach, Mark Richt.
Thank You For Your Help. Here Is A Lawn Dawg.
In August 2014, University of Georgia head coach Mark Richt wanted to send some pre-emptive thank you gifts to the people who work behind the scenes and make game day a success. People like the University of Georgia Chief of Police, the university's Spirit Coordinator, the band director, four associate athletic directors, their point person with stadium concession company Aramark, the guy from the stadium cleanup company, someone from private security firm CSC, UGA Campus Transit, the caterer for two personal boxes including Coach Richt's personal box, the head of a portable bathroom company, gameday parking, American Red Cross and the university's EMS service.
How did Coach Richt express his thanks? He went to Lowe's and bought $291.66 worth of bulldog lawn statues.
Unfortunately, Lowe's no longer carries these little dudes, but they retailed for $12.96 each. I'm sure Richt was immensely appreciative for these various people's efforts, but not so appreciative that he was willing to take the $291.66 out of his own $3.2 million salary. But, this was the only time he expensed such a gift, so either he never bought them before or since, or this was the only one he put on the company's tab.
Had he given any of these little dawg statues to his players, it would have been an NCAA violation.
Large Adult Sons Eat Large Adult Meal
How much food do 40 football players eat? It's a question that has plagued hungry mankind for years. Richt expensed a catered dinner at his home in June, 2015 for freshmen players and coaches, totalling 40 people. The order, from Countryside Catering, included:
- 500 hot wings
- 275 chicken tenders
- 50 cheese burgers
- 50 grilled chicken tenders (which I didn't know existed until I read this document)
- 100 cookies
- 100 brownies
- Mac and cheese (no specification on gallons/person)
- Green beans (undisclosed amount)
- To Go boxes
In order to guzzle this haul, each individual would have had to consume roughly: 13 hot wings, 7 chicken tenders, 1 cheeseburger (10 brave souls would have had to eat two), 1 grilled chicken tender (again, 10 dudes would have to eat two of these godforsaken things), 2.5 brownies, 2.5 cookies, and a slab of mac and cheese and green beans. This meal alone would approach, if not surpass, the 2,000 calorie recommended daily limit. The total bill came to $1,348.20, which is downright reasonable considering there was enough food to clog the Holland Tunnel.
Interestingly, the order also came with to-go boxes, which begs the question: did players take the leftovers home? It brings to mind the infamous Oklahoma PastaGate, in which Oklahoma self-reported a possible NCAA violation when three football players ate a shit ton of pasta at an all-you-can-eat banquet. The NCAA ruled that "there are no NCAA rules regarding portion sizes."
As employees, coaches at the University of Georgia get a per diem when traveling for Bowl games. Pretty standard practice for employees on a work trip. What seems slightly less standard is that Mark Richt's wife also got a per diem for traveling to Bowl games.
For the 2010 Liberty Bowl—Georgia lost to Central Florida 10-6; poor Dawgs—Richt collected $100 in per diems for himself, and $170 for his wife. For the 2013 Capital One Bowl—Georgia 45, Nebraska 31—Richt charged $143 in per diems, presumably because he ate more than half of his meals with the team. His wife, however, racked up $245 in per diems that year, charging 16 meals to the athletic department. The two combined for $460 in per diems in 2014, and $344 in 2015. So over the four bowl games, Mark Richt's wife charged the university $838 in per diems.
Mark Richt's wife is by all accounts a wonderful person, but not an employee of the University of Georgia. But hey, the athletic department has plenty of money. It's not like there's anything else they can do with it.
According to the University of Georgia Athletic Association compliance website, players can get per diems as well at the same rate as any other university employee, but only if the meal is not provided for by the university. For a big-time program like SEC Georgia BULLDAWGS footbaw, you can bet your sweet bulldawg that the university provides every meal so the players are plump and primed for the big game.
Team Entertainment, When Permitted
Twice during the 2014 season, Richt treated the team to a movie at the Athens University 16 Cinemas. Unfortunately, the receipt and expense reports provide no clues as to what they saw (the top box office draws on the respective days were The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I and Fury). But, the two visits totaled $1,339.86.
According to NCAA bylaw 16.7.2 (Films/Movies/Videotapes), the athletic department can take a team to the movies "the night before a contest without the film or movie being considered an extra benefit not available to the student body." One of the nights out was on October 30, 2014. The next Georgia football game was November 1, 2014 against Florida in Jacksonville. So this little gallavant to the theater did not occur "the night before a contest," but rather TWO nights before the contest. Likewise, the other night out came on November 26. The Bulldogs' next game was the 29th. POSSIBLE NCAA VIOLATION SIREN.
Bylaw 16.7.2 also states "It is permissible for student-athletes to receive a snack the night before an institution's contest as a benefit incidental to athletics participation."
The receipts did not include any snacks.
Correction: an earlier version of this article said Georgia beat UCF in the 2010 Liberty Bowl 10-6 followed by the exclamation, "GO DAWGS!" But, they did not. They lost to UCF 10-6. Poor Dawgs.
Correction 2: shit, I got the 2013 Capital One Bowl wrong, too. It was Georgia 45, Nebraska 31, not the other way around.