By: Robert Craft
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Star defensive tackle Jalen Carter became the third member of Georgia’s 2022 national championship team to be charged with reckless driving.
A fourth bulldog was charged with a DUI and the fifth was reported to have gone 34 miles over the speed limit at the time of arrest.
In total, nine Georgia players have been arrested in the last 13.5 months.
These arrests don’t have to be blamed on Georgia. There’s nothing that’s come to light that suggests it is. With that being said, these incidents still reflect poorly on the program’s image, as a charge reflects poorly on all five player’s criminal records.
All of these are misdemeanors, but Georgia’s program is at their highest media coverage nationally in the history of college football. The microscope is more zoomed in than ever, and narratives will be longer if these habits continue.
The car crash that took the lives of Devin Willock and Chandler LeCroy is a terrible tragedy. The other parts of the story have always seemed irrelevant: I don’t care about staffers socializing with athletes. I don’t care very much about a university car being used. I don’t care that they were at a strip club.
I do care what directly led to the crash. Now, Kirby Smart should talk with his program and take a leadership role in athlete risk aversion.
Smart needs to get a handle on street racing and reckless driving. Police report the cause of the car crash to street racing and reckless driving.
A coach can’t take away anybody’s ability to drive, but they can take away a starting roster position. An athletic director may set an example by suspending or dismissing players for criminal offenses while eligible.
Smart has indubitably built an athletic powerhouse in seven seasons in Athens, going for his third consecutive National Championship next season. However, after their latest title win, the team has been marred with bad morale and criminal news headlines.
The one thing that could bring down Smart and the Bulldogs’ dynasty is legal actions and a criminal reputation. Anybody remember the facelifting SMU and Miami have been doing after their debacles?
University of Georgia athletic director Josh Brooks stated that neither Willock, nor the driver of the car was on “athletic department business” at the time of the accident.
Brooks added that his department “[conducted] a thorough review, in coordination with appropriate legal counsel, to fully understand the circumstances surrounding this tragic event.”
This sounds like Brooks is trying to minimize sue damage. In a wrongful death case involving a motor vehicle accident, it is sometimes possible to hold an employer responsible if their employee’s negligence was responsible for the fatal accident. This is a vicarious liability under Georgia law.
Georgia follows a “comparative fault” standard in all personal injury cases, which includes wrongful death claims. Basically, this means that when the negligence of multiple parties led to an accident, a judge or jury must apportion the blame accordingly. The judge will then reduce the victim’s damages to account for their determined percentage of fault.
Willock’s family has not filed any legal action arising from his death. High-profile accidents like this one often raise a number of questions regarding the law in this area. Dave Willock, who is the father of the late Devin Willock, said that he was not planning a lawsuit at this time.
“Georgia is working with us,” Willock told the AJC. “We have no reason to do that (sue Georgia), because they are compensating us 100 percent.”
I have a feeling that in the near future lawsuits will be filed, but until then, Smart and Georgia’s athletic department have to clean up their public image.
In scenarios like these, a little bit of prevention is worth a whole lot of cure- Georgia got lucky, but it won’t matter if these incidents keep happening.