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Damon Evans Cannot Continue to Serve as Athletic Director for the University of Georgia

All things end badly, or else they wouldn’t end.

Tom Cruise, "Cocktail"

Two days ago, I made it clear that I did not hear what I needed to hear at Damon Evans’s press conference. While I understood, and understand, why he did not divulge certain details regarding his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol (with respect to which he must be mindful of his legal position), I did not, and do not, understand why he failed to address frankly the circumstances surrounding the incident. Concerning the passenger in his vehicle, he kept his answers as brief and vague as possible, confining his remarks to an amorphous apology for misdeeds he did not divulge.

Evans said his companion was "[j]ust a friend." If the police incident report is accurate, Evans was lying. He had the opportunity to get out in front of this story, to admit the sordid details with contrition and accept responsibility for his actions or to dispute an account he knew was forthcoming. He opted for neither course, electing instead to allow the story to unfold slowly and painfully, with each additional revelation making even uglier a situation that was shameful enough from the outset.

Perhaps it is true that, in an earlier age, such a situation would have been handled differently; had such a thing happened to Wally Butts, it might never have resulted in an arrest, a mug shot, an incident report, or press coverage. Be that as it may, we live in the age in which we live, and Damon Evans was well aware of that when he made the decisions he has made in recent days. We know that, on the night before beginning a new five-year contract to continue fulfilling his dream job at his alma mater, a 40-year-old married father of two operated a motor vehicle in a manner that attracted the attention of the police at around midnight on a weeknight when he was nowhere near home and was in the company of a woman with whom he acknowledges no professional association. We know that, when given the opportunity to explain himself publicly, he offered no details whatsoever and indicated that the thought of resigning his post had not crossed his mind. The only detail of the police incident report that could be construed as remotely favorable to Evans is the fact that the undergarments alleged to have been in his lap reportedly were red instead of orange.

I derive absolutely no pleasure from addressing the particulars of Damon Evans’s downfall; I have consistently written in support of Evans, whose job performance I generally would rate between competent and outstanding. The police report indicates that Evans cried uncontrollably at the time of his arrest; press accounts noted that he struggled to maintain his composure at Thursday’s news conference. This is sad on every level, but the inescapable reality is that Evans made a series of bad decisions, knowing the possible consequences, and he must reap what he has sown. It is increasingly apparent, and Evans has declined to take his ample opportunities to deny, that the University of Georgia athletic director didn’t just make one bad choice; there was a sequence of misjudgments, beginning at least as far back as his decision not to spend Wednesday night at home with his wife and children, and continuing at least through his statements that he had not considered resigning. Even if Evans had been the passenger and the woman he was with had been the driver, this situation would have demonstrated staggeringly bad decisionmaking.

Damon Evans is a native Georgian, a former Bulldog football player, a University of Georgia graduate, and a skilled athletic administrator who generally has served our alma mater well. From the first time I heard him speak at a Bulldog Club meeting, Evans was the candidate I preferred to succeed Vince Dooley as athletic director. It has been my hope throughout his tenure that he would do well in that job, and, by and large, he has done well in that job. However, it is now abundantly clear that Damon Evans can no longer continue to serve as the athletic director of the University of Georgia. He should demonstrate the sincerity of his regret and the genuineness of his devotion to the institution he serves by resigning. If his resignation is not on Michael Adams’s desk by the time the president returns from vacation, Damon Evans should be fired.

Go ‘Dawgs!