The school revealed plans Monday for the creation of the Vince Dooley Athletic Complex in a specially called meeting of its Athletic Association board of directors executive committee. If the plan is approved today by the Board of Regents as expected, the tribute could be complete in time for football season, athletics director Damon Evans said after the meeting.
When Dooley was forced into retirement by university president Michael Adams in 2004, there was talk among the school’s fans that it would be fitting to rename Sanford Stadium or the Bulldogs’ football field in his honor. Monday’s tribute essentially puts an end to that possibility.
“The stadium already has a name,” Adams said. “We think we’ve worked out something that is good and fitting. I think this is an appropriate and fitting tribute.”
Adams and Dooley spoke on the phone about the news, and Adams said Dooley was “gracious” during the conversation. Adams stopped short of saying this puts an end to the animosity between the two men.
“This is a day to talk about honoring someone who gave the university 40 years of terrific service,” he said. “I’m not inclined on occasions like this to look back. I think this gives us a good opportunity to look forward.”
The only construction phase of the new project is the addition of a memorial garden for Dooley. The garden will be adjacent to the school’s track at the corner of Pinecrest and Lumpkin streets and will include a larger-than-life-size bronze statue that already has been completed which shows Dooley being carried off the field by players Tim Morris and Jeff Harper after Dooley led Georgia to the 1980 national championship.
The complex will include the Butts-Mehre Athletic Heritage Hall, the Spec Towns Track, the football practice fields, Stegeman Coliseum and its new training facility, the Dan Magill Tennis Complex and the Rankin M. Smith, Sr. Student-Athlete Academic Center.
The project is expected to cost the Athletic Association between $500,000 and $1 million. Dooley, an avid gardener, plans to help with the creation of the garden, Evans said.
“I want to express my sincerest appreciation to all those who were involved in this very special tribute,” Dooley said in a statement released by the university. “Barbara (Dooley) and the family are very excited and appreciative, and I want to express their gratitude as well.”
Dooley coached Georgia to a 201-77-10 record and six SEC championships from 1964-’88. He also served as athletics director from 1979-2004.