ATHENS — Georgia football coach Mark Richt met with a few reporters in the atrium of the Butts-Mehre building late this afternoon and talked publicly for the first time about the arrest and resignation of Damon Evans. Richt expressed sadness for Evans and his family, endorsed the selection of Frank Crumley as interim athletics director and expressed confidence that UGA President Michael Adams will make a wise decision on Evans’ permanent successor.
Following are excerpts from the conversation with Richt.
His general feelings about what has happened:
“I do feel for Damon and his family. I’ve been working with Damon for almost 10 years now. I had a very good working relationship with Damon and a very good personal relationship, too, with him and his family. I’m definitely sad for everyone from that regard.
“Moving forward, I think President Adams has done a really very fine job of handling the situation the way he did. I think having Frank Crumley as the interim AD right now makes the most sense. Frank is a very, very sharp guy. We’ve got a lot of sharp people in our association. Everybody is very, very capable of doing their job or basically continuing to do their job because I don’t see anything that is really going to change in the way we go about our day-to-day business. I’ve got a lot of faith in Frank’s ability to lead. . . .
“We’re just going to go on with life and take care of business. Our football staff and our football team –- I think everyone is saddened by the news of losing Damon because he has done a bunch of wonderful things for us. He has been an outstanding athletic director. But we all know we’ve got a job to do and an exciting season ahead of us, and we are very excited about moving forward. And this situation, as sad as it was, we don’t believe it will hinder us from going where we want to go and doing the things that we want to do. So we’re focusing on that right now.”
Asked if he has spoken with Evans:
“Actually, we exchanged voice mails. Seems like every time I called him he wasn’t able to pick up, and vice versa. Nothing that I would want to divulge, nothing earth-shattering, but just talking about the situation as best you can through a series of a couple of messages we left for each other.”
On a permanent successor to Evans:
“I do have a lot of confidence in President Adams’ ability to hire a new person who will get the job done and get the job done well. I know Georgia is one of the finest universities in this country, and our athletic program has got to be one of the top five in America in my opinion. So it is a job that a lot of people would be interested in, a lot of quality people. And whoever the president decides on, I’ll support that person and we’ll be ready to move forward.”
His initial reaction upon hearing the news of Evans’ arrest:
“I didn’t really know how to react. Because when you’re not there and when you don’t know everything that happened, you hear DUI and that’s certainly a very serious thing. But I really didn’t try to make — I didn’t and still won’t make any kind of judgment on it, but I knew it was serious. I knew that.”
On whether the negative attention on Georgia could adversely affect recruiting:
“I don’t think so. Georgia is an awesome place; it’s a beautiful campus; we’re in a wonderful city; we’ve got tremendous academics here; we’ve got a great athletic program. I think people see that and people want to be a part of that, so I don’t think it’s going to become a problem that way.”
And on speculation about how a new AD might affect Mark Richt’s future:
“I don’t worry about those things, I really don’t. My focus is to do my job, and my focus is to be obedient to my Lord and Savior. That’s kind of what I do. And if that is good enough, great.”