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BISHER: Loyal Felton qualified for UGA's AD job

The Bulldog Nation is awash in anger. Red-hot fury. Asking itself, “How could we have misjudged this man so horribly?” This man who sat before them on television the other day, tight-lipped, full of apology, begging at the end, “My desire is to keep this job.”

Damon Evans didn’t realize it at the time, but he was a dead man.

In his eyes he was doing due diligence, making the case to continue as athletics director at the University of Georgia, actually seeming to feel that all he had to do was apologize. Apologies come easy, but just looking beyond the Red and Black podium at which he sat, into the grim condemning features of his wife in the background, you realized he had more than one apology to sell.

The bedeviling irony of it all is that this was the day Evans was to begin his servitude with a pay raise of $110,000, a new contract at a salary of $550,000 a year. Instead of out in celebration with his wife, he was in the company of a woman named Courtney Fuhrman, weaving his BMW through the streets of Atlanta five minutes before midnight. Just “a friend,” as Evans identified her.

Both were reportedly intoxicated when the police officer pulled the BMW over, and that’s when the anvil began to fall. At the time of his press conference in Athens the police report hadn’t become public, but once it did, Evans was cooked. Both he and Ms. Fuhrman had refused breathlyzer tests. Not only that, but according to the arrest report Ms. Fuhrman repeatedly violated police orders to remain seated, to the point that she was handcuffed. Then there was the ludicrous scene of Evans sitting there with a pair of red panties between his legs.

(At least the color was right.)

By this time Damon Evans’ career has crashed and Dr. Michael Adams has accepted his resignation. Next comes an appearance in police court — and, you might imagine just how critically nerve-wracking each waking hour in the Evans household must be.

Naturally, someone must be appointed to fill the vacancy in the athletics director’s office, probably on an interim basis, but then perhaps not. Mark Richt’s name has been suggested, though the combination football coach-athletics director combination has long since fallen out of style. Besides, Richt has enough on his plate to prepare the Bulldogs for a season that is overloaded with uncertainty.

It’s not often — in fact, just about never — do I get involved in hirings and firings. But in this case, it strikes me that there is a worthy prospect already within the athletics department, Claude Felton, many long, effective years as sports information director, already wearing the title of associate athletics director. No one is more familiar with Red and Black athletics, and has a longer career of total loyalty to University of Georgia.

Think it over, Dr. Adams.

Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The longtime Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing has authored multiple books on major figures likes Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He writes periodic columns for the Daily Post.