I kept yesterday’s post about Damon Evans’ DUI arrest deliberately minimalist because we hadn’t heard from him yet and because I find it’s usually better at moments like this to sleep on things before uttering serious pronouncements about a man’s fate. And even now I doubt I know the complete story, so for the moment I’ll leave the calls for his resignation/firing to righteous scolds like Mark Bradley.
That being said, there’s no question that I’ve found the debate in response to this fascinating, and as the header indicates, I have some thoughts of my own to contribute.
- I’m in my mid-fifties and I’ve been an avid observer of public life and public careers for most of that time, so there’s a certain part of me that’s jaded enough not to be surprised at what’s happened here. There’s also a certain part of me, though, that’s appalled by the arrogantly stupid lack of judgment Evans exercised. He’s put his reputation and his dream job at risk (not to mention his marriage and family) with behavior that he had to know on some level was incredibly reckless. And while his personal life is none of my business, his professional one is. How am I supposed to trust a man like this to do an intelligent job of running one of the biggest athletic departments in the country?
- I hear what David Ching is saying in this column. But I’ve got to say in response that if there’s one thing that’s apparent in our society, indignation dies down over time. Think about all the politicians and sports figures who’ve behaved badly over the past twenty or thirty years and how many of them have survived and even prospered after scandals (many of which were at least as bad as Evans’) for which the conventional wisdom insisted that it was certain career death? Whether it’s because we’re forgiving or because we’ve become increasingly numb, I don’t know, but history suggests the heat will eventually temper down.
- Speaking of which: for those of you worked up over this, but not so much about the scandal involving the Harricks, you need to recognize that’s a personal judgment. Because from the standpoint of the institution, there’s no question that academic fraud perpetrated by the school is a more serious issue than an individual employee’s misbehavior (yes, even criminal misbehavior) unrelated to that person’s official responsibilities. Yet Michael Adams, for whom presumably the academic integrity buck stops with, is still the president of the University of Georgia.
- And is the man who will decide Evans’ fate, a situation I find highly ironic here. “Adams is as much politician as academician, and that will play prominently in the decision he makes. He will wait to see how the public — i.e., Georgia fans and alumni — react to this before making the final call.” I think that’s right, too. I also think it’s going to matter what coaches like Fox and Richt think about what sort of impact the situation will have going forward in terms of enforcing team discipline in response to incidents similar to Evans’. There’s also the question of whether Evans will be able to perform his official duties effectively in the wake of this. He obviously believes he can, but it’s not as if his judgment on that front is particularly trustworthy now.
UPDATE: As you try to parse the tea leaves as to what Adams will do about (to?) Evans, read this.
“They can say what they want, but I have a letter from the NCAA that says I had nothing to do with the violations at Georgia,” Harrick said. “The thing I am bitter about is how the president of the University of Georgia treated my son. I’ll never get over that. He’ll go to hell for how he treated him.
“He wanted to show everybody how tough he was so he could be the president of the NCAA. Well, he didn’t get to be president of the NCAA.”