Damon Evans has been fired as the University of Georgia’s athletic director after a DUI arrest. It seems as though Evans forgot he was no longer a fraternity boy and currently an administrator at a major research institution. Police reports indicate that he had with him, a young woman (arrested for disorderly conduct in the incident) and red panties on his lap. No reports if the panties belonged to his passenger. Evans made an attempt to coerce the officers into letting him go with a warning. They didn’t. Who could defend this behavior? I always side with the drunk and I can’t come up with a defense. I will say that if Evans were white, we would have never heard of this. The officers would have driven him home and kept it all quiet, especially if UGA had a current championship football team. Call me crazy, but this all went down in Georgia. This is not to say that the arresting officers did anything wrong by arresting Evans. It is to say in the alcohol fueled sports world, there is a wide berth when interpreting the law, wider for tailbacks than lineman, wider for white people than black people. It’s just how it is. One of the things that is so wrong about our drug and alcohol policy is that black people pay a much higher price than white people. I don’t think that is unique to drugs but it seems more severe because its one of the ways we keep putting black people in jail.
He has made a public mea culpa and talked about the “dark cloud of shame” he has placed over UGA. Really? He did that? I am sure DUI’s are fairly common on the UGA campus. Granted as a faculty member it is different from a student doing this. Georgia chose to fire him. Yes, they fired him. God I hope Doug Tieman doesn’t read my blog, but he is the CEO of a treatment center and had a similar incident and he wasn’t fired. He is white, so I am sure that helps.
I did some research into the UGA alcohol and other drug policy. They do have a treatment program which is pretty standard fare. Students can be referred through various avenues mostly due to violations. So in otherwords, treatment is “clinical detention”. It seems that the firing of Evans is a way the University can save face, can “do something” about it. Did anyone consider a treatment option? Was that ever brought up at any of the meetings held to discuss what to do about this?
I really love colleges, I don’t like college because it is tedious and boring, but I like campuses and undergraduates, so I jump on issues like this one and I think Universities have a cultural responsibility to lead the way. Remember the 60’s? Didn’t we take cultural leadership from places like Berkeley? UGA could have handled this differently. I’ll bet there is a recovery community in Athens, GA. Did they make their voice heard? A sit in? A cold metal folding chair sat in front of the president’s office to demonstrate that Evan’s likely meets criteria for alcoholism and that he can be helped. He can get better and be an even better athletic director. I am guessing that nobody did that. I wish the University president had called us, I would have encouraged him to deliver the following in a press conference: “in light of the recent arrest of Damon Evan, he has been placed on a medical leave while he undergoes a comprehensive assessment and likely treatment for alcoholism. We will take into consideration the opinions of those treating him before any final decisions are made regarding his future at UGA” Is that so hard?