ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia coach Kirby Smart and his wife Mary Beth have committed $1 million to the university for programs supporting social justice and athletes impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as an expansion of the Bulldogs’ football facility.
The Smarts joined Detroit Lions quarterback and former Georgia star Matthew Stafford and his wife, Kelly, to endow the athletic association’s new social justice program.
A portion of the Smarts’ donation also will go toward scholarships for senior athletes whose final seasons were impacted by COVID-19. It will help defray funding shortfalls in the athletic department that could affect the ability to support athletes granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA.
The Smarts also contributed to the renovation of the Butts-Mehre football facility. The project will expand the weight room and add a locker room, a sports medicine facility, meeting rooms and coaching offices.
“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,” said Smart, who played football at Georgia in the 1990s and returned as the head football coach in 2016.
Smart is one of the nation;s highest-paid coaches. He agreed to a $49 million, seven-year contract in 2018 after leading the Bulldogs to the national championship game.
Smart has a record of 44-12 in four seasons as Georgia’s coach. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 4 by The Associated Press heading into their Sept. 26 season opener at Arkansas.