ATHENS — As so often is the case following news conferences to address problematic events, Damon Evans’ answers brought forth more questions.
Georgia’s athletics director offered no resignation Thursday night in the aftermath of his DUI arrest.
Instead Evans was adamant he wanted to keep his job, using the words apologize, mistake and shame five times each in his opening statement and ensuing answers to questions from the media.
“I believe — and will always believe — what should be done is what is in the best interest of this institution,” Evans said. “I do feel like my actions have put a black cloud over our storied program, one of which I never thought in my years here at the University of Georgia I would bring shame to this magnificent institution.”
After 10 minutes sitting in front reporters and cameras, glaring questions still linger.
Why was Courtney Fuhrmann, a 28-year-old real estate agent from Atlanta arrested along with Evans for disorderly conduct, in his vehicle?
Evans said she was just a friend and offered nothing else.
How much had Evans had to drink, and why did he refuse to take a breath test?
Once again, Evans, the school’s athletics director since 2004, said he had been advised to not talk specifics due to the ongoing investigation.
Would the police surveillance tape offer more answers once released?
No one is sure yet.
Taking Evans’ professional career out of the frame for just a moment, how is his family handling the situation?
“I brought shame to them,” Evans said. “I have two lovely children. I have a beautiful wife who is going through a lot right now, which haunts me. When you have such deep feelings and love for someone and you hurt them, as we all know, it’s something that’s hard to take, and I’ve done just that. I’ve hurt everybody.”
While Evans attempts to collect his personal life, professionally his fate is in university president Michael Adams and the rest of the Georgia administration’s hands.
“Dr. Adams is supportive,” Evans said. “I think he’s going to let things play out. He has to do what is in the best interest of this institution. He told me that. I told him I agreed with him from that standpoint. He knows I made a mistake, a serious mistake. He understands that. I believe that Dr. Adams wants to work through that with me, but at the same time I think it depends on how things play out.”
Adams may be supportive as Evans indicates, but since the president is on vacation, he left inquiring minds with only a written statement that did little in providing answers.
An ironic sting to what was supposed to be a commemorative day was the fact that Evans’ new five-year contract, worth $550,000 annually was set to begin Thursday.
Early Thursday afternoon Evans met with Georgia coaches and senior staff to apologize for not leading by example and for bringing shame to the program.
Most of those coaches — basketball coaches Mark Fox and Andy Landers, baseball coach David Perno and swimming coach Jack Bauerle — were part of the massive procession that entered the room prior to the news conference.
Football coach Mark Richt was not.
“Well Damon met with the group (Thursday) afternoon,” Fox said. “I think he wanted to, as he mentioned, apologize and take responsibility and he stood up like a man and did so.”
While Evans said he hoped to learn from his mistakes, some disappointed students disagreed.
“I think not resigning is showing selfishness,” said David Payne, a senior majoring in agricultural business. “It sounds like he has a lot of personal things to handle, and he’s showing disregard to his personal life and family by not resigning his position. Things in your personal life affect your professional life, especially when you have the responsibilities and power his position commands. I think he should be fired.”
Evans said resigning never crossed his mind. Instead he said he plans to regain the trust of the administration, fans and his family all while holding his current position.
“I’ve got a lot of soul searching,” Evans said. “I’ve got a lot thinking to do. I’ve got to take a step back and pause and say, ‘Damon, you’ve got to get back on track. You’ve got to set an example. You’ve got to be the leader that you talked about being. You’ve got to be the role model for the student-athletes that come through this institution that you say you are.’ ”
Is all that possible for a man to accomplish while tied to such responsibility amid such scrutiny?
That’s just one more lingering question.