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New Georgia A.D. holds self to higher standard

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

ATHENS -- New Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity doesn't want to judge what led to the ouster of his predecessor, Damon Evans.

All McGarity knows is that he must hold himself to a higher standard than anyone in the athletic department, particularly after Evans' DUI arrest this summer and the arrests of eight Georgia football players this year.

"It's a huge responsibility, probably a life-changing responsibility," McGarity told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "Regardless of what happened in the past, now with the advent of cell phone cameras and things of that nature, your life totally changes."

McGarity, who had worked in Florida's athletic department since 1992, has been on the job only two days and offered no hints if he wants to change personal conduct policies at Georgia.

It's clear, however, that he will insist that athletic department employees and Georgia's student-athletes be more mindful of their surroundings and behave accordingly.

"I've been in sort of the shadows for 18 years," McGarity said. "I could go into restaurants and nobody would know me, (but) it's a different set of eyes, and I knew that coming in. There's no surprises there. You have to deal with it the best you can. We're not all perfect. In the situation we're in, you just have to do the best you can do in the way you conduct yourself."

When McGarity was introduced as AD on Aug. 13, Georgia president Michael Adams said the university had hired someone with a clean image.

"I ran background checks and talked to people all over the state," Adams said. "I got a little worried when I could not find anything bad. There is no question about his personal integrity."

Football coach Mark Richt met with McGarity recently to discuss the arrest last week of tailback Washaun Ealey for hit and run and driving with a suspended license.

Richt, whose program has a long list of arrests over the last few years, disputes that the athletic department suffers from a flawed protocol in warning and disciplining disruptive players.

"The flaw is if a guy does something that deserves to be disciplined and you don't discipline him," Richt said. "That's where the flaw is. The flaw is in us as humans. We're flawed, we're human, we make mistakes. When we make a mistake, then we get disciplined for it. As long as we have 18- to 22-year old guys who are human beings, they are going to make mistakes. That's just all there is to it. If you don't discipline it, you have a problem. If they don't learn from it, then they have a problem."

Georgia opens the football season Saturday at home against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Before March 7, Richt thought the Bulldogs would begin summer practice with two leading candidates to start at quarterback, redshirt freshmen Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray.

Murray soon stood alone. Mettenberger was kicked off the team in April after police in Lowndes County, Ga., charged him with underage consumption and possession of alcohol, possessing fake identification and disorderly conduct-obstruction.

Mettenberger was facing a one-game suspension from Richt for the alcohol-related charges before sexual battery charges in the same case led to his dismissal.

"If it's severe enough that they don't belong on the team, then they go," Richt said.

Murray, whom recruiting services rated as a top prospect in 2008, understands the pressures that accompany a starting quarterback at a high-profile school in the Southeastern Conference.

"You have to be careful with what you do," Murray said. "There are a lot of Georgia fans around here and a lot of people looking at us. You've just got to be smart. Don't put yourself in the wrong situation and things like that."

Regarding the NCAA's investigation of All-SEC receiver A.J. Green, Richt declined to give details. Green, a junior, said last month that he has never been to Miami, site of a party in May that allegedly was hosted by sports agents.

"Well, this is a subject that I'm just not allowed to make comment on," Richt said, "so I'll just keep it like that."