The University of Georgia Athletic Association has launched an ambitious program that seeks to implement strategic initiatives in the areas of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice, according to an announcement Friday by athletic director Greg McGarity.
To fund the cost of the initiative in perpetuity, initial significant gifts totaling $500,000 have been made by former Bulldogs quarterback Matthew Stafford and his wife Kelly ($350,000) and current Bulldog head coach Kirby Smart and his wife Mary Beth ($150,000). These commitments are part of larger gifts made by both the Staffords and Smarts, the specifics of which will be forthcoming as they are finalized.
“The generosity of Matthew and Coach Smart allows the Athletic Association to implement strategic initiatives in diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice,” said McGarity. “These gifts will help the Athletic Association educate, implement dynamic programming, and execute service opportunities to achieve our goals, those being to foster critical consciousness, cultural competence and further developing change within the athletic association and our greater community.”
The primary goal of the program is to continue developing an environment that will effect meaningful change in these areas for all the association’s members, including student-athletes, coaches and staff.
“I am grateful to Matthew Stafford and Coach Kirby Smart for their generous gifts to fund this important initiative and am excited about the opportunity the program presents for us to promote an inclusive culture among our student-athletes, coaches, and staff,” said UGA president Jere W. Morehead.
Stafford is the Detroit Lions' longtime quarterback, while Smart is entering his sixth season as head football coach at his alma mater.
“The Athletic Association remains committed to leading a sustained dialogue on diversity, inclusion and innovation in what continues to be historic times for our nation,” said Matt Borman, the UGA Athletic Association's deputy athletic director for development. “The significant gifts from Matthew and Coach Smart will allow the Athletic Association to apply important initiatives in these critical areas. We have exceptional student-athletes, staff and community leaders who will help us inspire, motivate, and stimulate meaningful action moving forward in this effort.”