UGA president releases statement regarding athletic director
Athens, Ga. — University of Georgia President Michael F. Adams released the following statement today upon hearing about the arrest of Damon Evans, UGA director of athletics, in Atlanta.
"UGA Athletic Director Damon Evans informed me early this morning of his arrest and provided me an account of the events of last night. Drinking and driving is a serious matter, and I was extremely disappointed to hear of the arrest. Certainly this is not an example of the kind of leadership that I expect our senior administrators to set. I have high regard for Damon personally; I care deeply about him and his family and know him to be a man of integrity. He has sincerely apologized to me for the embarrassment this has brought upon the university. I was notified of this matter while away on vacation and will reserve further action pending a full review by staff and legal counsel."
UGA news release
The future of University of Georgia athletic director Damon Evans’ job remains uncertain after he apologized Thursday evening following an arrest Wednesday night on drunken driving charges.
“I’m an individual who made a grave, grave mistake — one that will be with me for the rest of my life,” he said. “I have to turn it into one that will teach me a lesson.”
Evans, a Gainesville High School graduate, expressed interest in staying with the university and said he didn’t consider resigning.
“My desire is to keep my job. I want to be here and love this institution. ... There’s unfinished business here,” he said. “There are policies and procedures at this institution. What I did was very, very serious, and I think that ... I have to take a step back and see where I am and if I can move forward.”
Evans said he told University of Georgia president Michael Adams about the situation Thursday morning and said Adams was supportive but needs to make a decision “in the best interest” of the university.
“I don’t know what’s coming my way,” Evans said. “...I need to sit back and do what I need to do to rectify the hurt of the situation.”
Adams, who is on vacation, did not attend the news conference Thursday night but released a statement, which university officials passed out afterward.
“Drinking and driving is a serious matter, and I was extremely disappointed to hear of the arrest. Certainly this is not an example of the kind of leadership that I expect our senior administrators to set,” Adams said in the statement.
He added he knows Evans to be a “man of integrity” but didn’t indicate what his next step will be.
“I was notified of this matter while away on vacation and will reserve further action pending a full review by staff and legal counsel,” Adams said.
Georgia State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright said Evans was stopped just before midnight in his 2009 BMW at Roswell Road and Chastain Drive in north Atlanta.
“He was stopped from the manner of his driving,” Wright said. The trooper smelled alcohol and gave a field sobriety test.
Evans was arrested and charged with DUI and failure to maintain a lane. Evans refused a Breathalyzer test at the city of Atlanta Jail, Wright said.
A passenger in Evans’ car, Courtney Fuhrmann, 28, of Atlanta, also was taken to jail. She was charged with disorderly conduct after a trooper had to repeatedly tell her to get back in the car as he was performing Evans’ field sobriety test, Wright said.
Evans said at the news conference that Fuhrmann is “just a friend.” He added no other details about her and declined to comment on Wednesday night’s arrest, citing it as an “ongoing case.”
Officials at the jail said Evans was released about 5 a.m. Thursday.
Evans’ wife, Kerri, attended the conference, and Evans said he “sits here very ashamed and embarrassed” by his actions.
“I have a beautiful wife who’s going through a lot right now, which haunts me and troubles me,” he said. “I’ve hurt everybody. I sincerely apologize for my actions.”
Evans’ father, Sam Evans, an Oakwood city councilman, said he heard about the arrest on the radio.
“I’m happy Damon took responsibility for his actions, and the most important thing is he saw he did do something wrong and knows he has to improve,” Sam Evans said. “It is out of the ordinary for any member of our family; we just don’t do this. ... Once this is all done, the healing process can take place.”
Sam Evans said he thinks the incident will push his son to “be the best he can be."
“And he will. I have that much confidence in him,” he said. “I talked to him earlier today and tried to give him a few pointers. I could see on his face that the apology came from the heart.”
Evans took over as athletic director in July 2004. In February, The Athletic Association board approved a five-year contract for Evans, including a $110,000 raise to take effect Thursday.
The contract moves his salary from $440,000 to $550,000 and adds $20,000 raises every subsequent year — ending at $630,000 in the final year of the deal. He would receive a $250,000 longevity bonus if he stays until July 1, 2015.
In three seasons with the Red Elephants, Evans played wide receiver under former coach Bobby Gruhn and basketball for coach Jerry Davis. Evans’ No. 85 football jersey is retired at Gainesville.
After a redshirt season at UGA in 1988 — Vince Dooley’s last year as Bulldogs coach — Evans played four years at receiver for Ray Goff, including trips to three bowl games.
“To all the people in Bulldog Land: It’s going to take a while to earn your trust back,” Damon Evans said. “I don’t know if I ever will. I will do everything in my power to make you believe in me once again.”