What sometimes starts out as a private lark ends up a very public debacle with extremely dire and far-reaching consequences. Such is the case with former University of Georgia Athletic Director Damon Evans, forced to resign following a DUI arrest.
At 40 years of age, a bright star in the UGA galaxy has spun out into a black abyss. The only purpose for writing about this tragedy is the lessons that can and should be learned. Drunken driving is a serious matter with often deadly consequences.
If that weren’t enough, Evans, a married father of two, had a woman in the car whom he first said was merely a friend, but she later disclosed they’d been seeing each other. The next layer of embarrassment were details contained in the police report. In short, rather than merely writing the ticket or making the arrest on the DUI charge, the officer included all the sordid details. In short, it was the booze coupled with the ink that ended Evans’ career.
According to the police report, Evans asked the officer if there was anything he could do without arresting him on the drunken driving charge. First mistake. When stopped by the police for any reason, be polite and cooperate fully. Do not in any way try to throw your weight around about who you are or who you think you are. Drunken driving? Police officers arrest other police officers for drunken driving. They do not and should not show any mercy. It’s dangerous. You are an athletic director? A public official? A celebrity? And???
Secondly, Evans should have insisted that his companion keep quiet and stay in the car. She ended up with a disorderly conduct charge and her mug shot all over the media. She might not have been an issue had she kept quiet and stayed in her place. But even worse was the note in the police report about the red ladies panties between Evans legs. The officer noted that the married father of two told him, “She took them off and I held them because I was just trying to get her home.” According to the report, Evans told the officer that Courtney Fuhrmann was nothing more than a friend, but that Fuhrmann later told him that the two had been seeing each other for “only a week or so.”
What is so bothersome about all of this is that Evans is a young married father who has senselessly lost a $550,000 a year position and not likely to ever again rise to that level. He was groomed by the legendary UGA coach and Athletic Director Vince Dooley. He was a source of pride as the first African-American athletic director of our flagship university. His wife has dutifully remained by his side. But one can only imagine the deep hurt and humiliation this lovely young woman must be feeling along with the embarrassment felt by the children. Please don’t take this statement to demonize or canonize.
But if this had been Vince Dooley 25 years ago, this story would NOT have seen the light of day. Even if he had another woman in the car the officer would have likely winked and she would have kept quiet, knowing her role. That is perhaps what Evans was thinking when he kept asking the officer if there was anything he could do. This is 2010. Evans is not Dooley. We have a more zealous media. Our awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving is heightened. Things have changed, but some haven’t. A major element of this tragedy that is talked about privately among Blacks and Whites all over this country is the element of race. The married Evans’ is (was) another powerful Black man brought down by keeping company with a White woman well beneath his social status. Lessons not learned. Yes, the arresting officer, put some ink on that boy.
Steen Miles, The Newslady, is a retired journalist and former Georgia state senator. Contact Steen Milies at Steen@dekalbchamp.com.