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Chris Gay: Gwinnett playing the name game

Posted: July 23, 2017 - 12:23am

Rodney Dangerfield, one of the greatest comedians ever, was known for his self-deprecating humor, along with his humorous movie roles in Caddyshack and Back to School.

Before he hit the height of his fame in the 1980s, he had a comedy bit titled: "What's in a Name?"

We in the Augusta area know all about having a good name. There's some of you in Columbia County who don't like to hear the name "Augusta," but that's where you live (no matter if you live in Evans or Martinez or Grovetown.)

Some of us fought like heck when our old friend, Ricardo Azziz, went against the community's wishes and delivered the name "Georgia Regents University" to the Georgia Board of Regents for the merger of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University. It was an awful name, a tramp stamp on our fine city.

Then after Azziz departed and Brooks Keel became president, Keel erased the tramp stamp. No longer would our local university be labeled "GRU" or "GRU-A." We rejoiced when the name got switched to Augusta University.

Finally, someone made sense.

This leads us to the Gwinnett Braves. As I told you recently, the club announced its plans to change its nickname. So the team had a contest asking for suggestions. Gwinnett officials recently released the six finalists to replace "Braves." They are: Buttons, Big Mouths, Gobblers, Hush Puppies, Lambchops and Sweet Teas. Buttons, as several people have publicly opined, is the least worst of the bunch.

I guess I should have officially submitted my suggestion: Gwinnett Gridlock. It wasn't that bad of a thought after all. In my column two months ago, I also suggested these names: Gritz, Goobers and Peaches. Those nickname suggestions weren't so bad either.

Thankfully, we have the Augusta GreenJackets. You don't realize how great a name that is until there's contests like the one Gwinnett is holding - they will reveal the winning nickname later this year. Maybe Azziz will swoop in at the last minute and provide his guidance. Gwinnett Georgia Regents, anyone?

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MONEY MAN: Speaking of Augusta University, Rob Zeyfang, the school's director of advancement relations, has recently been tabbed to lead fundraising for the athletics program. My knee-jerk reaction? This is a good move. After speaking with a few people, my knee-jerk reaction is confirmed. Folks are saying good things about him.

Zeyfang, president of the golf program's Birdie Club, is now tasked to bring in cash for all 13 sports. The Jaguars have needed someone to raise money for its athletic department for awhile. This is the same athletic department that - for some reason - has been stuck in neutral for years.

We could spend plenty of time discussing why Augusta still doesn't have an athletic hall of fame (Paine College and USC Aiken each have one). We could talk about things like why Michael Holder - for some reason - wasn't hired last year to become the school's baseball coach. (This is nothing against the current Jaguars' coaching staff, but Michael Holder is a game-changer. He should have been a slam-dunk hire. Slam. Dunk. Hire.)

But for now, let's look at the Augusta athletics department and its recent financial issues. In the fiscal years 2014, 2015 and 2016, the Jaguars spent $1 million more than it brought in - $1,123,581 to be exact. According to the school's actual revenue analysis for those years, here's what the school brought in:

2014: $2,785,939

2015: $2,735,042

2016: $3,071,802

And here's the athletic department expenditures in those years:

2014: $3,173,775

2015: $3,227,357

2016: $3,315,232

 

Each of the three fiscal years listed, athletic fees made up 95 percent or more of the athletic department budget. Now you know why the school brought over Zeyfang - to provide a much-needed fundraising boost. More money won't help the budgeting issues, but it's a needed start.-

 

FREE MONEY?: Maybe you remember the name Matthew Lesko. If not, here goes.

Lesko became popular years ago through his annoying infomercials in which he wore suits adorned with question marks as he shouted out ways for all of us to receive "free money" through government programs. Maybe Lesko should write a book about the NBA.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Chris Vivlamore, veteran Jamal Crawford just received free money in the amount of $13.2 million. As part of a three-way trade, the Atlanta Hawks received a 2018 draft pick, another player, cash considerations and Crawford, who didn't want to play for Atlanta. So the Hawks bought out Crawford for the next two seasons instead of having him play for the team. Or to put it another way, Atlanta is paying $13.2 million for that first-round draft pick. Read the story for yourself here: http://www.ajc.com/sports/basketball/hawks-saved-million-buyout-crawford/UuU9haKDmT18oR6qwGsO5H/

Vivlamore pointed out the Hawks actually saved $4 million on the Crawford deal - he was owed $17.2 million over the next two seasons. Crawford went all Steve Miller, taking the money and running. After being released by Atlanta, he signed a two-year, $8.9 million contract with Minnesota. Somewhere, Matthew Lesko is smiling.

 

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