Kirby Smart defends UGA football program after car crash, arrests

On Tuesday, UGA football head coach Kirby Smart came to the defense of his program after what’s been an off-season of turmoil and tragedy.
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 7:02 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2023 at 7:19 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Tuesday, UGA football head coach Kirby Smart came to the defense of his program after what’s been an off-season of turmoil and tragedy.

“Our guys do make mistakes. That historically is probably going to happen when you’re 18 to 22 years old,” said Smart, in his first public appearance with local media since the deadly car crash on January 15. “Our job as coaches is to prevent that from happening and that starts with me,” Smart said.

On January 15, football player Devin Willock and staff member Chandler LeCroy died in a car crash in Athens in the hours after UGA’s championship parade.

Athens-Clarke County police said alcohol impairment, racing, reckless driving, and speed were significant contributing factors to the crash in January.

Standout defensive lineman Jalen Carter was charged with street racing and reckless driving in connection to this crash.

Police said Carter was racing with LeCroy in the moments leading up to the crash.

According to a toxicology report, police said LeCroy, the driver of the 2021 Ford Expedition involved in the crash, had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.197 percent at the time of the crash. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.8.

ORIGINAL STORY: UGA player, staffer among two dead after car crash in Athens-Clarke County

In January, the Athens-Clarke Police Department released the incident report for the deadly crash, saying speed was a factor.

Smart on Tuesday said LeCroy violated program policy when she drove the school vehicle outside of her job responsibilities.

“And that policy was broken. It’s been understood that you cannot take a vehicle when you’re not doing your duties and they were not participating in their duties at that time,” said Smart.

Devin and his Georgia Bulldogs teammates were riding high during the National Championship parade in Athens after winning back-to-back titles just one day before the crash.

Smart said he’s not considering any policy or structural changes to his football program in light of the off-field incidents.

“When you make mistakes that decisions that are costly, they can cost you your life. And that’s not to be taken lightly. And I think our guys understand that,” said Smart.

RELATED: Community devastated after UGA player, staffer killed in crash

Smart said he brought in law enforcement experts in August to talk with the football team about the dangers of street racing.

“I think it’s important that if you play at the University of Georgia you represent the University of Georgia the right way. But I also think that these are young men that are going to make mistakes. And I’m a big believer in education, helping them to become better,” said Smart.

RELATED: UGA fan met player Devin Willock one day before his death

UGA players on Tuesday said the program is more aware of the importance of safety when driving.

“Everybody around the facility, not just football players, but everybody you have to be more conscious on the decision you make behind the wheel. And I feel that was something – it was really a wake up call to the team,” said Kendall Milton, senior Running Back.

Tuesday marked the start of spring football practices ahead of the 2023 season.