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Controversial UGA Book Behind the Hedges Receives Community, Media Attention

The late Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rich Whitt’s investigation of fundraising controversies at the University of Georgia, Behind the Hedges: Big Money and Power Politics at the University of Georgia, continues to resonate both with national media and the UGA community nationwide.

USA Today notes that Behind the Hedges “recasts” the UGA debate, long reported as a conflict between academics and athletics, as instead an examination of the misuse of UGA fundraising money. “The book,” USA Today writes, “includes details such as [UGA President Michael Adams] spending $138,000 of the school’s money on parties surrounding the 2008 Sugar Bowl between Hawaii and Georgia.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quips of Behind the Hedges, “Don’t expect tales of gridiron glory.” The article mentions former UGA veterinary professor Renee Kaswan, whom Whitt mentions in the book as conflicting with Adams. “The university stood to make $300 million in patent revenues from [Kaswan’s research],” the paper reports, “but against her wishes, Adams and the University of Georgia Research Foundation sold those rights for a much smaller lump sum, perhaps costing the school more than $200 million.”

In Athens, Georgia, home of the university, the editorial section of the student newspaper Red and Black spoke out about the University of Georgia administration’s refusal to talk about Behind the Hedges. “It’s Whitt’s belief that Adams has been able to wield so much power because the media hasn’t adequately covered the struggles,” writes editor-in-chief Carolyn Crist, “especially an audit the UGA Foundation requested [reprinted in the book], which details aspects of fundraising and mishandling of University money. … The reputation of our president and University will certainly affect your diploma value.”

Syndicated columnist Bill Shipp discussed in a recent column his difficulty finding Behind the Hedges in bookstores. “Behind the Hedges, a story of wheeling and dealing and plain misconduct at UGA, has all but vanished from the stores and mail-order houses. You’d think someone systematically bought out the book before it could be circulated.” Shipp praises Behind the Hedges for “newly discovered details … The book contains several lessons that might be of use to the next chancellor.”

Bloggers commenting on Behind the Hedges include the Orlando Sentinel‘s Gridiron 365, The Anti-Orange Page, Football Rumor Mill, and Get the Picture.

Behind the Hedges: Big Money and Power Politics at the University of Georgia is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online bookseller. Read excerpts from the book through Google Book Search.