So, did Damon Evans do enough in his news conference late Thursday to save his job?
He struck the expected contrite tone, apologized for the shame he has brought on the University of Georgia and his family with his arrest on DUI charges, promised to learn from his “grave, grave” mistake, and thanked UGA President Michael Adams for standing by him.
Somehow, just learning a tough lesson doesn’t seem enough, does it? And it should be noted that Adams said in a statement released by UGA that he “will reserve further action pending a full review by staff and legal counsel,” so Evans isn’t out of the woods yet.
Frankly, I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t have to do a lot more than just apologize. UGA athletes arrested on alcohol-related charges must sit out at least 10 percent of a season. If Evans is going to get to keep his job, it would seem only fair that he at the very least forgo that $110,000 salary increase that went into effect today.
Beyond that, some sort of outreach program aimed at restoring his credibility with UGA students, employees and supporters would also seem a must.
And there’s still the possibility that the backwash from all this could result in Evans and/or Adams concluding that he no longer can effectively lead the UGA Athletic Association.
After all, he is in a position of responsibility over more than 600 student athletes at a university that’s put a big emphasis on trying to stem an almost endemic underage drinking problem. And on top of that he was the public face of those don’t-drink-and-drive messages that run on the scoreboard at Sanford Stadium in the fall.
DUI is a hot-button issue. You never know who might be coming over the center line straight at you or one of your loved ones out on the road late at night.
It doesn’t matter that Evans has been an excellent financial steward of the UGA Athletic Association’s $85 million budget since taking over the athletic director’s job six years ago today, managing to keep the program among the few in the country that are highly profitable in tough economic times.
While the bottom line usually rules in modern big-time college football, institutions like the University of Georgia are very sensitive to a public relations nightmare like having Mr. “If You Drink and Drive You Lose” accused of doing exactly what he’s warned UGA fans against.
So when that Atlanta DUI arrest mug shot of Evans looking more than a bit worse for wear hit TV and the Internet Thursday, the odds of him getting out of this with his career intact grew rather long.
All the facts of Evans’ case still aren’t known. And it has yet to be adjudicated. DUI cases don’t always stick, as has been proved this week in Gwinnett County with County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister.
But you’ve got to wonder how a guy like Evans, a graduate of UGA’s prestigious Terry College of Business and one of the youngest ADs in the nation when named to the position at 34, got himself into a situation like this.
Frankly, he seemed so much smarter than that.