New book offers critical view of UGA President Michael Adams

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ATHENS, Ga. -- A new book by a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter paints a harsh portrait of University of Georgia President Michael Adams.

Rich Whitt builds a case in "Behind the Hedges" that Adams is a mediocre fundraiser, has made bad decisions that cost UGA millions of dollars and has used money donated to the university for questionable expenditures such as a $9,000 party for his son's law school graduation.

Adams and UGA officials dismissed the book as a rehash of yesterday's news - the epic struggle of the UGA Foundation's Board of Trustees to get Adams fired in 2003 and 2004.

The foundation's board manages about half a billion dollars for the benefit of UGA academic programs.

"The book retells one side of an old story that is long since resolved. The university has moved on," said Tom Jackson, UGA vice president for public affairs.

Much of "Behind the Hedges" stems from a highly critical audit of Adams' money management and leadership that the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche performed in 2003.

The UGA Foundation trustees commissioned the audit following Adams' controversial decision not to renew the contract of longtime Athletic Director Vince Dooley.

Adams painted the dispute as a struggle between athletics and academics, but foundation trustees said their distrust of Adams went much deeper than that.

The audit questioned Adams' use of foundation money and raised the possibility that some expenditures could be illegal.

State Attorney General Thurbert Baker and the University System Board of Regents never followed up the allegations with any real investigation, according to Whitt's book. The author takes state leaders such as Baker and Gov. Sonny Perdue to task for weak responses to serious charges by a respected accounting firm.

And according to Whitt, one way to judge Adams is to look at who sided with him - and who did not - during the struggle.

"It says something when a college president's detractors are the Griffin Bells and Vince Dooleys while his defenders are the Don Leeberns and the Sonny Perdues," he wrote.

The struggle between some of the state's most powerful people and groups ended when the regents stripped the foundation of its status as UGA's official fundraising partner and created a substitute corporation, the Arch Foundation.

The UGA Foundation kept the UGA endowment money, however, and continues to manage the funds for the benefit of the university. The foundation's assets grew to nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars before the drastic stock market and real estate declines last year and this year.

Jackson declined to address specific accusations the book makes, including newer issues Whitt raises, such as the allegation that Adams is ineffective in one of the most important parts of his job as president - raising money.

Although private contributions to UGA have grown steadily since Adams became president, comparable schools have had much more success, according to Whitt.

UGA had the third-largest endowment among the 12 Southeastern Conference universities when Adams took over from Charles Knapp in 1997, behind only Vanderbilt and Florida. Now, the state universities of Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas have passed UGA, according to Whitt.

"Adams has underperformed," he wrote.

Whitt, 64, died Jan. 26 of an apparent heart attack, shortly after finishing the book. He had retired in 2007 from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won a Pulitzer Prize for his work uncovering the corruption underlying a 1977 fire that killed 165 people in the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Ky.

"Behind the Hedges" is scheduled to hit bookstore shelves April 6. It also is available online from publisher NewSouth Books and online booksellers such as Borders and Amazon.

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themaninthemirror
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themaninthemirror 03/31/09 - 06:35 am
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Maybe the University of

Maybe the University of Arkansas could use a new president and Michael Adams and Daniel Rahn could be shipped out on the same train.

thistownisunbelievable
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thistownisunbelievable 03/31/09 - 07:54 am
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I am reading this right now.

I am reading this right now. It is pretty good, but VERY slanted against Adams. As a big Dooley fan, that doesn't really bother me, but readers will pick up on the slant right away. The amount of money that flows through these institutions is unbelievable.

Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 03/31/09 - 07:55 am
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Too bad Whitt did not devote

Too bad Whitt did not devote his investigative capacities to the question of the remarkablely and doggedly persistent underperformance of our state's public school system.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/31/09 - 10:12 am
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When you have secret meetings

When you have secret meetings in motels half way between Augusta and Athens with Dan Rahn to start a new medical school, you are suspect in my book.

Dawglover1
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Dawglover1 03/31/09 - 12:47 pm
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There have been rumors that

There have been rumors that Bob Knight never gave UGA a second glance due to Michael Adams "close, personal" friendship with Indiana's President. (i.e. the guy who forced Knight out of his job there). Anyone have any ideas for how Mr. Adams can continue his destruction of our beloved institution? If this guy really is losing money for UGA, then that should be the final straw in a haystack of mistakes he has made since becoming president of UGA.

thoga
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thoga 03/31/09 - 03:37 pm
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There are millions of dollars

There are millions of dollars in the endowments at UGA that can not be used because of wording. One for example from the 1870s or so states "white males"--that fund has over a million dollars, another has over $6M due to wording stating a "loan" and not a grant. What a shame.

williamhitt
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williamhitt 03/31/09 - 03:37 pm
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I am no relation to the

I am no relation to the author Whitt. Ten years is long enough for person to serve as president of UGA or any college or university. Move on and let another person serve. UGA class 1955.

conservative
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conservative 03/31/09 - 04:57 pm
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Tom Jackson says, "The book

Tom Jackson says, "The book retells one side of an old story that is long since resolved." He is trying to save his neck with the powers to be. What does he REALLY think? The OLD STORY was NEVER resolved, just covered up, shut up, and zipped up. Don't know his age but is he too old to get another job? Send him and Adams to Arkansas with Rahn. AND don't wait months to send them like Rahn wants to do. The sooner gone, the better, and EVERYONE knows that. Those three have ruined SO many lives, and it will all come back to haunt them too! Maybe I am judging Jackson from his defense and association with Adams. If I had a choice between Adams and/or Rahn and a bucket of warm spit; I would snatch up the spit real quick like, before someone else beat me to it.

themaninthemirror
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themaninthemirror 03/31/09 - 09:03 pm
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Riverman1, Please tell me

Riverman1, Please tell me what hotel these secret meetings were held in halfway between Augusta and Athens? Once you leave Thomson, there is nothing else until you get to Athens.

arcdog
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arcdog 03/31/09 - 10:45 pm
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lol at the idiot with the

lol at the idiot with the Bobby Knight rumor - you mustve stood on your head too long as a child. Knight has never been on Georgia's radar for the HC job.

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