Georgia coach Kirby Smart and his wife Mary Beth are making a second donation to their alma mater.
The UGA athletic department said Thursday that the Smarts would be donating $1 million to the school. The money will go to the department’s new social justice program, scholarships for senior athletes impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and also toward the football program.
The Smarts made an initial donation of $150,000 to the school in August toward the social justice program’s founding. That donation was announced along with a $350,000 donation from Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford and his wife, Kelly.
“Mary Beth and I are where we are because of the University of Georgia, so we feel a duty to give back to the university that opened so many doors for us, brought us together and brought us home,” Smart said in a Georgia statement. “The current moment presents unique challenges for all of us, whether that’s dealing with the ramifications of this pandemic or acknowledging and addressing racial inequality. We hope this gift can fuel positive change in both areas.”
Smart played football at Georgia while Mary Beth was a basketball player at the school. According to USA Today’s salary database, Smart was the fifth-highest paid coach in college football in 2019 with a total compensation package just shy of $7 million.
The NCAA announced this summer that all fall sports players would receive an extra year of eligibility at their schools because of the coronavirus pandemic. That means schools will have more scholarship athletes than usual for the 2021-22 fall sports seasons.
The social justice program was launched in August to “implement strategic initiatives in the areas of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice” according to athletic director Greg McGarity. Thursday’s announcement came after the school said earlier that day that Stegeman Coliseum — the basketball arena on campus — would be used as an advance polling place for the November election.
The decision to let students and others vote early at Stegeman came after a student voting rights group pointed out that UGA would not have any on-campus voting sites in the student center. The school had said the decision was made for coronavirus-related reasons.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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