People aren’t truly tested in matters of character until they face adversity. Similarly, college coaches aren’t truly tested until they’re deciding whether to look the other way when a talented recruit gets charged with a serious crime.
So let me type these words for Kirby Smart: You passed a test Sunday.
The Georgia football coach has released recruit D’Antne Demery from his letter of intent after the offensive lineman from Brunswick was arrested in downtown Athens Saturday night on charges of simple battery and criminal trespass-damaged property. The charges stem from an incident with a young woman who, according to her statement to police, is the mother of Demery’s child.
Demery was a four-star recruit who was pursued by a number of schools, including Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Michigan. He was in Athens with several other recruits for Georgia’s “G-Day” spring game Saturday at Sanford Stadium. The group was introduced at halftime on the field.
Smart could have attempted to play the standard coaches’ out card: “We’re going to let the legal side of this play out.”
But he didn’t. It would not have been a good look, especially in view of so many high-profile domestic violence incidents involving athletes. The alleged victim claims Demery grabbed her by the back of the neck and pushed her against a wall. She also told police Demery, “has been physically violent with her in the past,” via the Journal-Constitution’s Seth Emerson.
Demery’s future is uncertain at this point but we know he won’t be transferring to another SEC school. As Emerson reported: “The conference passed a rule last year prohibiting any school from accepting a player with a history of sexual or domestic violence.”
FINAL UPDATE: There’s been a lot of confusion about whether Demery can immediately transfer to another SEC school, given that he signed a letter of intent but was not enrolled. This clarifies it, once and for all. He CANNOT. Click here.
It’s a great rule. Because if it wasn’t in place, how quickly would another SEC coach be moving for Demery about now?
You may recall in 2012 when then Georgia coach Mark Richt dismissed defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor following felony domestic violence assault charges. Taylor spent a year at a Mississippi junior college before transferring to Alabama, which led to deserved criticism of coach Nick Saban. The Athens charges against Taylor were still pending.
Two months later, Taylor was arrested in Tuscaloosa for third-degree assault and domestic violence third degree criminal mischief, stemming from an incident with a 24-year-old woman. Saban then dismissed Taylor but the stain on the coach’s reputation lingered.
There should be zero tolerance in the area of domestic violence. Coaches can find other players. Credit to Smart for not just making the right decision but doing so quickly.
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