The odds against Michael Adams remaining president of the University of Georgia for another two years are about a thousand to one.
The odds against finding a star-quality replacement for him are about a million to one.
The trustees of the University of Georgia Foundation - the fat cats who give money to the big school - have seriously damaged Adams' reputation. They also have impaired the University System's ability to recruit top-level executive talent.
The trustees ought to be satisfied with their work on Adams. He is finished at Georgia. Still, they cannot leave him alone. The trustees have scheduled yet another meeting next week to go over the so-called "outside" audit of Adams - an "outside" audit, by the way, conducted by the trustees' regular bean counters and barristers. The trustees will then again consider whether to issue a vote of "no confidence" on Adams.
Hey, stop! Enough! The headline-making campaign to pillory Adams is an embarrassment to Georgia. The trustees who have ram-rodded this campaign have lost their bearings. They have forgotten who they are and what their job is. The board's duty is to provide cash for the betterment of UGA, not to torture the school president.
OK, so Adams' spending habits needed reining in. OK, so Adams should have extended the contract of Athletics Director Vince Dooley. Agreed, Adams should not have messed with firing a football coach and hiring a basketball coach. Agreed, Adams should have been more polite and less arrogant to the Athens country club set.
For crying out loud, none of these transgressions rates a virtual lynching. Adams continues to be beaten up so badly that one has the feeling that the war against him has become a rote exercise accomplishing little more than providing a diversion for rich people who have nothing else to do.
The Get-Mike Club is akin to the Atlanta Anti-Communist League, a group devoted to thwarting the long-gone Red menace. Or the nature lovers' brotherhood sworn to protect the deer population when deer are already overrunning the landscape.
The Get-Mike Club no longer has a reason to exist. Yet it continues to pummel its victim. It's like beating Tennessee 77-0 in four quarters of football, then demanding a fifth quarter to run up the score further.
Adams is not the first guy in recent times to incur the "treatment" in the university system.
Chuck Knapp lasted 10 years as UGA president, but he spent nearly every day of his tenure fighting off trustees and alumni who wanted to oust him for being "too liberal."
No matter what Knapp did, his actions were interpreted as part of a liberal conspiracy growing out of his suspect background as a member of the President Jimmy Carter administration. He finally had enough and quit in 1997.
Fred Davison spent much of his career as UGA president in a confrontational mode, fighting off faculty, football fans, the governor's office and finally the all-powerful Board of Regents, which decided to delay renewing his contract. Davison felt he had been publicly humiliated and resigned in 1986. He had dedicated his life to the University of Georgia and as a reward was kicked in the tail.
Steven Portch quit as chancellor of the University System in 2001 just as a mob of legislators gathered to give him what is now known as the "Adams Treatment."
Portch's sins? Changing the schools from a quarter system to a semester set-up; changing the name of several colleges; and swapping out one too many presidents, and, oh yes, being a native Brit who once worked in Wisconsin. "He's not one of us," they said of poor Portch. As it turned out, he wasn't.
So, let us suppose that Michael Adams exits soon as UGA president. How will the regents and trustees induce a big-name, hard-driving academic to move to Athens and risk enduring the same misery as the present president - if he/she accidentally steps on a few toes - or tries to make personnel changes - or says Trustee X's C-minus son is not qualified for admittance to the university - or mistakenly snubs a football coach's wife at a cocktail reception?
Who would take such a job? No one as qualified as Adams or Knapp or Davison. No one in his right mind - no matter how much additional gravy the fawning and clumsily deceptive trustees might offer as a signing bonus.
For the next UGA president, the forecast calls for pain.
You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 440755, Kennesaw, GA 30160 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web address: http://www.billshipp.com