HED:Co-workers see Shafer as people person

By Todd Vinyard

Daily Journal

Athletic departments are like any large workplace. It would be nice if everyone got along, but usually they don't.

So when Vince Dooley was looking for a business and event manager at Georgia in 1992 the former Bulldog football coach was mildly surprised. John Shafer had been in Athens, Ga., since 1982 and had made quite an impression.

"Everyone in our department agreed John Shafer was the best man for the job," Dooley said. "When that many people in an athletic department agree on a person, you know he is special."

Ole Miss is hoping those special qualities serve Shafer well as the school's athletic director. Shafer's former co-workers at Georgia say once again, despite not enjoying seeing him go, Shafer is the right man for the job.

"The University of Mississippi got a great man and Georgia has suffered a real loss," said Freddy Jones, assistant athletic director of ticket operations at UGA. "Those coaches at Ole Miss have never had an administrator who is as supportive as John."

Jones says it wasn't out of the ordinary for Shafer to drop by for a chat and ask if things were going OK.

"And he wasn't coming by just to be friendly," Jones said. "John wanted to know if there was anything he could do to help you. He didn't wait for you to come to him. He came to you."

But if you did come to Shafer you were in for a treat. Shafer keeps an M&M candy machine on his desk. He uses it as a mental toughness test. Instead of eating them he gives them to children and staff workers.

"He'd always have the M&Ms and a smile," said Glada Horvat, the associate athletic director of women's administration.

Horvat said Shafer did an excellent job working with women's sports.

"He went to everything and wanted to see us do well in all sports," Horvat said. "We're going to miss him."

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