FoxAUDTo hear Georgia men's basketball coach Mark Fox talk about Evans' arrest.
ATHENS — By now, we’re all used to hearing the words “arrest” and “University of Georgia athletics” in the same sentence. They go together like peanut butter and jelly, like white on rice, like Mark Richt and underachieving.
But the arrest late Wednesday night of Bulldogs athletic director and Gainesville High graduate Damon Evans on DUI charges in Atlanta takes the program’s infamy to a whole new level.
It was already a busy offseason for the football team. In April alone, the Bulldogs dismissed two players following arrests (quarterback Zach Mettenberger and linebacker Montez Robinson) and saw another (punter Trent Dittmer) locked behind bars. Just when it had gotten to the point where the football team should consider building its own on-campus jail because of so many arrests the past several years, comes word that the athletic program’s leader is no better than his troubled student-athletes.
And this story could get worse for Evans, who is married with two children. The passenger in the car at the time of Evans’ arrest was 28-year-old Courtney Fuhrmann, who, according to her Linkedin.com page works in real estate in Atlanta. At Thursday’s press conference in Athens, Evans claimed Fuhrmann is just “a friend.”
Is he being truthful? Let me ask you this: How many married men do you know who go out drinking and driving with women who are not their wives at midnight on a Wednesday? As the case unfolds, it’s likely the extent of their relationship will become more clear. For now, all we have to judge Evans by is one of the most unflattering mug shots you’ll ever see — I’m talking Nick Nolte unflattering.
Regardless of Evans’ relationship with Fuhrmann, and regardless of what becomes of the criminal case pending against him, these events should end with Evans stepping down as athletic director of Georgia.
With all the arrests Georgia student-athletes have compiled over the years, it is mandatory the school have the leader of its program setting the example.
By his own admission, Evans has not done that.
“My behavior, my actions, were not indicative of what we teach our student-athletes here at the University of Georgia,” Evans said.
“My goal has always been to represent this institution in the utmost fashion. Unfortunately, I failed at that. I failed miserably.”
Evans is right. But now what? If Evans has his way, he’ll get the opportunity to “move ahead and learn from these mistakes,” to “take a look at myself in the mirror and size up who I am as an individual.”
When he does that, he’ll discover he’s a hypocrite. We’ve all seen his video at Georgia football home games when he pleads with fans not to drive home drunk. Self-reflection is not sufficient for this particular program, which has a track record for alcohol-related arrests involving its student-athletes.
Evans did not resign Thursday, but he should have. Instead, he told “Bulldog Land” that he “will do everything in my power to make you believe in me once again.” It’s as if he took a crash course instructed by Tiger Woods’ press conference speech writer.
He has not offered to resign and all indications point to him leaving the ball squarely in university president Michael Adams’ court. If I’m Adams, who is currently on vacation, I’m taking Evans’ actions personally. I’m sure Adams’ idea of how to spend his time off did not include thinking about how to handle this PR nightmare. He should, and likely will, handle it by either asking Evans to resign or by firing him.
There’s no other way to handle this.
Up to this point, Evans has done a respectable job with the athletic program in his six-plus years of service, most notably earning The Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year for the Division I Southeast Region in 2009. But as of today, Evans has lost all credibility and can’t be taken seriously. That’s an irreparable predicament that Georgia finds itself in and it can’t afford to sit around waiting for this situation to fix itself, because it won’t.
Adam Krohn is a sports writer for The Times. You can follow him on Twitter @adamkrohn.