ATHENS — With his wife sitting silently on the side of the room and numerous senior athletics department staff watching, University of Georgia athletics director Damon Evans held back tears as he apologized for his Wednesday night arrest on charges of driving under the influence in Atlanta. But even as Evans promised to learn from his mistake, his future remained very much in doubt.
“I made a serious mistake, and I’m not taking that lightly, nor should the president of this institution take that lightly,” Evans said. “However that’s dealt with, as some might say, I’ve just got to accept it. I’ve made my bed, and now I have to lay in it.”
University President Michael Adams was on vacation but spoke with Evans by phone early Thursday morning. In a statement released by the school, Adams offered support for Evans but said a firm decision on the athletics director’s future will not come until the full details of the arrest are available.
“I have high regard for Damon personally; I care deeply about him and his family and know him to be a man of integrity,” Adams said in the statement. “He has sincerely apologized to me for the embarrassment this has brought upon the university. I was notified of this matter while away on vacation and will reserve further action pending a full review by staff and legal counsel.”
Evans was arrested on charges of DUI late Wednesday night in Atlanta, according to Georgia State Police.
According to Georgia State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright, Evans, 40, was pulled over by a Georgia state trooper just before midnight on Wednesday in a 2009 BMW after the officer viewed Evans driving erratically.
The officer said he smelled alcohol and administered a field sobriety test, after which Evans was taken into custody at the Atlanta city jail on charges of DUI and failure to maintain lane.
“Once (the officer) got Evans stopped, during the course of that conversation the officer detected an odor of alcohol,” Wright said. “He administered a field sobriety test and determined that Evans was less safe to be operating a vehicle.”
Evans reportedly refused a breath test at the jail.
At his Thursday news conference, Evans declined to comment on the specifics of the incident due to the ongoing investigation.
Another passenger, identified as 28-year-old Courtney Fuhrmann, was in Evans’ vehicle at the time of the arrest and was also arrested on charges of disorderly conduct. Evans, who is married and the father of two children, said Fuhrmann was “just a friend” who had no ties to the Georgia athletics department.
“I have a beautiful wife, who is going through a lot right now, of which it haunts me and troubles me,” Evans said.
“And when you have such deep feelings and love for someone and you hurt them, as you all know, it’s something that’s hard to take. I’ve done just that. But I’ve hurt everybody.”
Evans took over as the athletics director at Georgia in 2004 and recently signed a new five-year contract that went into effect this week, raising his salary by $110,000 to $550,000 annually.
In addition to speaking with Adams, Evans met with Georgia coaches Thursday to explain the situation and provide details about the immediate future.
“Damon met with the group (Thursday) afternoon, and I think he wanted to, as he mentioned, apologize and take responsibility,” men’s basketball head coach Mark Fox said. “He stood up like a man and did so.”
Evans said he has not met with any Georgia student-athletes but planned to do so in the future.
Evans has commented several times about the numerous alcohol-related arrests that have hit the Bulldogs’ football program during recent years. During home football games at Sanford Stadium, Evans appears in a public safety video warning fans not to drink and drive.
While Georgia students and athletes are subject to discipline following a DUI charge, Evans said he remained unsure what punishment might now await him.
“I don’t know what’s coming my way,” Evans said. “That’s a determination of the president and the powers that be to take a look at everything in totality and render a decision. I’m going to sit back, do what I need to do to try to, as best as possible, rectify this current situation.”