Gridiron Secret Society

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Gridiron Secret Society, founded in 1908,[1] is a secret society at the University of Georgia. Gridiron has been called "the highest honor a male student may receive on the University of Georgia campus."[2][3]

Gridiron is believed to draw most of its membership from students,[4] faculty, and alumni of the University of Georgia, but a number of members have no known association with UGA. The society elects student members and non-student members called "honorary members" each fall and spring.[citation needed] Student members are drawn from various disciplines university-wide including the law school, Ag Hill, the Greek system and UGA athletics.[5] Honorary members are usually prominent leaders in government, law, medicine or business, mostly from and associated with the state of Georgia. The organization has extensive alumni participation, with well-attended banquets held in Athens twice each year, but its purposes and activities remain a closely guarded secret.[citation needed]

The organization is thought to have connections with certain structures and historic sites around the state of Georgia and southern United States (Warm Springs, Georgia Guidestones, Georgia Capitol building),[citation needed] but its members do not publish any information. The organization is believed to be associated with other secret organizations which operate around the world under different names including Yale's Skull and Bones.[citation needed] Observers have noted that University of Georgia's first president Abraham Baldwin was a Yale graduate and likely member of Skull and Bones.[6]

Membership[edit]

The society's name is believed to be in reference to the playing field on which football is played, however "qualifications for membership and activities are known only to members." [7]

Known members include every Governor and United States Senator from Georgia since the 1930s,[citation needed] including Jimmy Carter, Richard B. Russell, Jr., Herman Talmadge, Zell Miller, Ellis Arnall, Ernest Vandiver, Carl Sanders, Joe Frank Harris, George Busbee, Roy Barnes, Sonny Perdue, Sam Nunn, Mack Mattingly, Max Cleland, Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, as well numerous other political, civic and business leaders. Current members serving under the Gold Dome include Governor Nathan Deal, House Speaker David Ralston, Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer, Chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party Dubose Porter and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

University of Georgia head football coach, Kirby Smart, is a member as is former football coach Vince Dooley.[8] Other noteworthy members include Atlanta Olympics organizer Billy Payne, Olympic Swim Coach Jack Bauerle,[9] athletic booster Sonny Seiler,[10] stadium namesake Charles S. Sanford, Jr., humorist Lewis Grizzard, sportscaster Skip Caray, professional golfer Hudson Swafford and football greats Herschel Walker, David Greene, Matt Stinchcomb, and Fran Tarkenton.

Other identified members include Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield,[11] Dean Rusk, U.S. Representative Jack Kingston, Griffin Bell, Pat Swindall, Richard Russell, Jr., Thurbert Baker, Bernard Ramsey, Harold G. Clarke,[12] Frank Sinkwich, and Dan Amos.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Around Town: KSU 'crazies,' Newt share space in Ehrhart's cross hairs". The Marietta Daily Journal. 
  2. ^ "Collegiate secret societies in North America" (PDF). 
  3. ^ "Charles R. Rigdon obituary". Florida News Leader. 
  4. ^ "Pandora". 
  5. ^ "Pandora Yearbook - Class of 1950". 
  6. ^ Smith, Gerald, Sr. "Abraham Baldwin (1754-1807)". The New Georgia Encyclopedia. 
  7. ^ "Editor in Chief: Smith, Donald (April 23, 1955). "1955 UGA Pandora Yearbook". Pandora Yearbook. Retrieved 2009-02-28.". 
  8. ^ "Preparations for G-Day End as Saturday Nears". The Red and Black. May 5, 1966. 
  9. ^ "Elect Billy Payne". The Red and Black. April 18, 1968. 
  10. ^ "Meet Georgia's Top Dawg Sonny Seiler: This lawyer and author owns the state's favorite canine". 
  11. ^ "Gridiron Secret Society". The Red and Black. March 5, 1953. 
  12. ^ "Justice Harold G. Clarke (September 28, 1927 - February 26, 2013)".