The Georgia football program has been surrounded by questions for the last few months ever since the Jan. 15 car accident that killed offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart did his best to answer some of those questions this week.
Smart sat down with ESPN’s Mark Schlabach to discuss the accident that claimed the lives of 20-year-old Willock and 24-year-old LeCroy and later led to defensive tackle Jalen Carter being charged with reckless driving and speeding. Smart was asked at one point if there was anything he wished he could have changed about the fraternization between Georgia players and staff, but Smart said he wouldn’t change anything.
“No, nothing that we would change,” Smart said. “No policy that we have caused this accident. It’s a very unfortunate, tragic accident.”
Smart was then asked if it was LeCroy’s job to get the players home that night. The Bulldogs head coach emphatically responded, “Absolutely not.”
Per a release by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, their investigation found that LeCroy, who was driving a 2021 Ford Expedition, and Carter, who was driving a 2021 Jeep Trackhawk, “were operating their vehicles in a manner consistent with racing shortly after leaving the downtown Athens area at about 2:30 a.m.” The department’s statement explained that evidence demonstrated that both vehicles switched between lanes, drove in the center turn lane, drove in opposite lanes of travel, overtook other motorists and drove at high rates of speed “in an apparent attempt to outdistance each other.”
The statement went on to say that evidence indicated that shortly before the crash the Expedition was traveling “at about 104 miles per hour.” It further stated that LeCroy’s blood alcohol concentration was at .197 at the time of the crash, which is nearly two-and-a-half times the legal limit.
“Investigators determined that alcohol impairment, racing, reckless driving, and speed were significant contributing factors to the crash,” the department’s statement said.
The statement indicated that the case will be given to the solicitor general’s office.
The Expedition that LeCroy was driving was a vehicle leased by UGA athletics that was for recruiting purposes only. Georgia athletic director Josh Brooks explained on Feb. 7 that LeCroy did not follow policy by not turning the vehicle in when her recruiting duties were done and that the use of the car at the time of the accident was unauthorized. Brooks also said that to his knowledge the university was unaware that the Expedition had not been turned in.
Brooks put out a statement on Jan. 24 about the accident that included the following: “Coach Smart and I are also actively reviewing relevant football policies, and at the conclusion of that review, we will take steps to implement any improvements in our policies and procedures that may be needed.” Brooks was asked on Feb. 7 what specific policies could be changing.
“We’re going through everything in the processes and procedures of that and that’s still ongoing right now, so I don’t want to get into the specifics of that right now,” Brooks said.
Smart told Schlabach that he was aware that Carter was on the scene of the accident because of the people who were in the emergency room that morning but that the Bulldogs head coach and others within the program found out about the arrest warrant when everyone else did.
Smart’s statement on Wednesday regarding Carter’s arrest warrant mentioned “we will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities,” which Smart expanded upon with Schlabach.
“It means do everything they ask,” Smart said. “I think there’s a misperception out there that we may know more then other people or there’s this misperception that we’re trying to hide something. We’re in search of information too, and we don’t get all that information. So we’ll cooperate fully with authorities and give them all the information we can.”
Before ending the interview, Schlabach asked Smart if the Bulldogs program had a culture problem. Smart said that was not the case.
“Absolutely not, and I would say we’re far from it,” Smart said. “Do we have perfect young men and women and players? Not necessarily, but I promise you this: That’s the intent — for us to grow these guys and get them better. I feel really good about the culture within our program.”
ESPN reported that Carter will be back in court on April 18 for an arraignment hearing related to the misdemeanor charges he is facing.
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