By Stephanie Schupska
After a four-year run, the University of Georgia announced today that it will no longer host the Stadion Classic Golf Tournament.
Since 2010, UGA has hosted the Web.com Tour stop at the UGA Golf Course. Known previously as the Athens Regional Foundation Classic and played at Jennings Mill Country Club, the tournament was renamed when Watkinsville-based Stadion Money Management signed on as the title sponsor.
"It has been our privilege to work closely with our friends at UGA, including George Stafford, Dave Cousart and Matt Peterson, whose efforts have produced an exceptional event over the last few years," said Jud Doherty, president of Stadion Money Management. "We understand and respect the current decision, and we would like to express our parting appreciation to all those involved in the success of the Stadion Classic—including the hundreds of tournament volunteers who so notably contributed to that accomplishment."
Without a major increase in funding, it has become difficult for the university to sustain the PGA TOUR-sanctioned event at the level required to continue. Planners estimate that it would cost an additional $350,000 to secure TV coverage to bring greater recognition and exposure to the event and the university, a goal UGA set when signing on as tournament host.
"Our title sponsor, Stadion Money Management, and a number of others have faithfully supported our efforts," said George Stafford, executive assistant to the vice president for finance and administration at UGA. "But we have been unable to secure a sponsor at the ‘presenting' level, which would have made a major difference in our ability to continue operations. We don't foresee the likelihood that this will change in the future."
After careful and deliberate consideration, Stafford said, the tournament staff and UGA Auxiliary Services Division management decided it was not in the university's best interests to continue the tournament.
"The university is appreciative of the opportunity we had to host the tournament," Stafford said. "We have enjoyed our partnership with the PGA TOUR and are grateful for the sponsors, tournament partners and volunteers who have supported this event."
"The Web.com Tour regrets that UGA will no longer be able to operate our event, but we are hopeful that we can identify another host and continue bringing PGA TOUR-caliber golf to the Athens area," said Web.com Tour President Bill Calfee. "Our relationship with the university has been excellent."
The Stadion Classic at UGA was the only PGA TOUR-sanctioned event hosted and operated by an institution of higher education. Net proceeds from the event added approximately $70,000 to the university's need-based scholarship programs. Local charities received a total of $383,835 through TICKETS Fore CHARITY, a program that benefits nonprofit organizations in communities where PGA TOUR and Champions Tour tournaments are held.
Over the past four years, the university has seen three of its alumni take the title of Stadion Classic champion, the final being Brendon Todd, a 2007 graduate and former UGA golf star. He won this year's event, shooting an 8-under-par 205 in an event shorted to 54 holes of play. The final day of the tournament was canceled due to 2.5 inches of rain that flooded the course following the third round and continued into Sunday.
Previous UGA golfers to win the tournament were Hudson Swafford in 2012 and Russell Henley in 2011, who won as an amateur while on the UGA Golf team.
"We've put on an event that was regarded by the players and tour staff alike as one of the best on the Web.com Tour schedule," Stafford said. "We are proud of what we've been able to accomplish."