ATHENS — Georgia approved a plan Monday that would honor former football coach Vince Dooley by putting his name on a complex that includes many of the school’s athletic facilities, though not the stadium where the Bulldogs’ most prominent team plays.
The executive board of the Georgia Athletic Association voted in favor of the Vince Dooley Athletic Complex at a special meeting. The university cabinet, which includes most of the school’s top administrators, followed suit.
The proposal is expected to be finalized when the state board of regents meets in Atlanta on today and Wednesday.
The complex on the southwest end of campus most notably includes Butts-Mehre Athletic Heritage Hall, the main headquarters of Georgia athletics, and Stegeman Coliseum, home of the basketball and women’s gymnastics teams.
The football practice fields, baseball stadium, track and field facilities, tennis complex and student-athlete academic center also are included in the proposal. In addition, the school would erect a sculpture and garden next to Butts-Mehre honoring Dooley.
Sanford Stadium, the school’s 92,000-seat football home, is located about a mile away and wasn’t included in the plan.
"I want to express my sincerest appreciation to all those who were involved in this very special tribute," Dooley said in a statement. "I especially want to extend a heartfelt thank you to those who were directly responsible."
Dooley served as football coach from 1964-88, winning six Southeastern Conference championships and the 1980 national title. He also served as athletic director for a quarter century, but was forced into retirement during a bitter dispute with university president Michael Adams.
Putting aside their animosity, Adams praised Dooley’s contributions.
"This is a fitting tribute to Vince Dooley’s 40 years of service to the University of Georgia as an outstanding football coach and athletic director," Adams said. "The Bulldogs’ success under Vince’s leadership has been inspirational for our friends and fans, and the foundation he laid is an important component of the success we are enjoying today."
Some of Dooley’s former players started an informal campaign to get his name on Sanford Stadium. Among the ideas: naming the field after Dooley while also keeping the stadium’s familiar name, which has been done at SEC schools such as Tennessee and Florida.
Instead, the school chose a different honor for the former coach.
"We are honored to participate in this special tribute to Coach Dooley," said athletic director Damon Evans, who played for Dooley and succeeded him as head of the department.
"There are thousands who have benefited from coach Dooley’s leadership of, and contributions to, our athletic program, myself included. However, he has had an enduring impact not only on the University of Georgia but also on college athletics across the country in a very significant way over a long period of time."