The two have communicated through voice messages following Evans’ DUI arrest and subsequent resignation, talking about the situation as best as possible amid two busy schedules, Mark Richt said in a hallway at the Butts-Mehre athletic building Wednesday.
Evans was Vince Dooley’s right-hand man when Richt arrived at Georgia in 2001. The two spent a lot of time together as Evans ascended to AD in 2004, and had both a stellar working relationship and a great friendship, Richt said.
Pointing out the motivation and diligence to improve Georgia’s academic emphasis, Richt said there were many great accomplishments in Evans’ tenure.
“I don’t think this will define Damon Evans,” Richt said. “I think this is certainly a bump in the road without question. He’s a very, very capable man. He’s very intelligent. He’s got an awful lot going for him. Just for him to be in the position he was in at such a young age just shows what his capabilities are and what his potential is. I think he’ll rebound.”
Evans was pulled over June 30 on Roswell Road after failing to maintain his lane. He had a pair of panties between his legs, refused to take a breath test and made mention of his power and position as the Georgia AD.
Evans’ 28-year-old passenger—Courtney Furhmann—was arrested for disorderly conduct.
Richt was on vacation when he first learned of Evans’ legal troubles, saying initially he didn’t know how to react.
“You hear a DUI and that’s certainly a very, very serious thing,” Richt said. “I didn’t and still won’t make any kind of judgment, but I knew it was serious. I knew that.”
Evans can still collect his professional career down the road, Richt said, adding he has a chance to, “rise to his potential once again.”
The arrest and resignation undoubtedly provided public embarrassment to the university and athletic department. Although many aspects of the university have been affected, the football team is not one of them, Richt said.
“We’re just going to go on with life and take care of business,” he said. “I know our football staff and our football team we’re certainly—I think everyone was saddened by the news because Damon has done a bunch of wonderful things for us. He’s been an outstanding athletic director. But we all know we got a job to do and an exciting season ahead of us, and we’re very excited about moving forward. This situation, as sad it was, I don’t believe it will hinder us from going where we want to go and doing the things that we want to do.”
The tendency among blogs and reports has been to speculate that Evans’ actions will be used against Richt and the football team by other schools in recruiting.
Having already been speaking to his players as often as possible on the dangers of drinking and driving before Evans’ arrest, Richt does not view matters as casting doubt in potential recruits’ decision-making, he said.
“Georgia’s an awesome place. It’s a beautiful campus,” Richt said. “We’ve got a wonderful city. We’ve got tremendous academics here at the university. We’ve got a great athletic program. I think that people see that, and people want to be a part of that. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.”
Associate athletic director Frank Crumley was appointed interim AD by Adams while an internal committee of six will seek a permanent replacement.
Crumley is a man Richt holds in high regard, having spent the last decade working alongside each other.
“Moving forward I think president Adams has done a very fine job of handling the situation the way he did,” Richt said. “I think having Frank Crumley has the interim AD right now definitely makes the most sense. Frank is a very, very sharp guy. I feel like I have a very good relationship with Frank and he’s very capable.”
Looking first outside of the University of Georgia, Adams hopes to find candidates who can bring a different perspective to the athletic department to inspect and ensure the current policies and practices in place, he said at a press conference Tuesday.
No matter who is hired, Richt trusts Adams and the committee will hire someone capable of filling the position and he will support the decision, he said.
“Well obviously they’ll find somebody who is very confidant and very experienced I think,” Richt said. “I think the bottom line is it’s just going to come down to the committee and president Adams’ opinion of can handle the job the best.”