Former Georgia AD Evans gets ‘second chance’ in college athletics

Damon Evans is again on college campuses. He was among the movers and shakers during the Final Four in Atlanta earlier this month.

Former Georgia AD Evans gets 'second chance' in college athletics
Marc Weiszer

The former Georgia athletic director just completed his fifth week on the job heading a new division for IMG College, the multimedia, marketing and licensing/brand-management company.

“I look at it as another opportunity, a second chance for me to get back in a business that I have a strong passion for, the business of intercollegiate athletics,” Evans said Friday. “I’m starting again. I’ve been out of the business, out of intercollegiate athletics now for two and a half going on three years. It’s a new start for me.”

Evans, forced out at Georgia after a DUI arrest in 2010, started his new job on March 18 and has been on the road most of the time since, meeting with athletic directors and administrators.

Damon and his family — wife Kerri and children Cameron and Kennedy — will relocate to North Carolina. IMG College’s office is in Winston-Salem.

Evans’ hiring by IMG College was first reported by Sports Business Journal.

Evans, 43, is in charge of a new division that works with schools on fundraising.

“The gist of it is to go into institutions and do what we call privatize fundraising,” Evans said. “We’ll go in and do an assessment of a department, look and see the resources that they have. We believe that we can provide institutions who may be lacking the resources, staff, money and what have you, that we can come in and put staffing in place that would work for the institution under the umbrella of IMG.”

The connection for Evans was Ben Sutton, the IMG College president who founded ISP Sports. Evans and Georgia struck an eight-year $92.8 million marketing and media-rights deal with ISP in June, 2009.

Just over a year later, Evans was arrested on DUI charges in Atlanta with a woman who was not his wife. He reached a settlement with the school days later and would plead guilty to DUI and be sentenced to 12 months of probation and 40 hours of community service.

Georgia President Michael Adams said at the time: “What troubles me the most is the loss of potential here.”

IMG College still saw that potential in Evans, who landed in Boston working for the Markley Group, a data storage firm headed by Georgia graduate and friend of Evans, Jeffrey Markley.

“He was one of the best and brightest young ADs when he was at Georgia and it’s time for him to be back in college athletics,” Mark Dyer, IMG’s senior vice president for business ventures, told Sports Business Journal.

Evans’ home in Boston is less than two miles from the scene of Monday’s bombing. His old office was about a mile away.

Evans was in the area having lunch on Monday and watched some of the marathon before returning home. He spoke Friday from Charlotte after flying there from Atlanta. He has not been on any SEC campuses since taking his new job, but met with Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork at the Final Four.

“It’s something he probably enjoys more, being in the sports world,” said Sam Evans, Damon’s father. “It’s just something that he really wanted to get back into.”

Evans said he periodically talks to his former administrative assistant, Sharon Kelley, as well as Georgia senior athletic staff members Carla Williams and Alan Thomas, but says he remains “low key” and watches Georgia’s teams from a distance.

He sent a text to football coach Mark Richt before the SEC championship game in December, wishing him good luck and occasionally will text Mark Fox, the basketball coach he hired.

“Georgia is still my alma mater,” Evans said. “I developed a lot of relationships and friendships and I still have the utmost respect for Georgia. Georgia did so many great things for me and my career, and the people there at Georgia helped me to develop as a person and I cherish both the friendships and memories I have there.”

Evans, who played wide receiver for Georgia, was the youngest athletic director in the SEC when he succeeded Vince Dooley in 2004. He said isn’t sure if he would like to become an athletic director again.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t rule that out. When I was athletic director at Georgia, I loved it. As everybody knows, it was my dream job to work as the athletic director at my alma mater. However, I’m starting a new chapter. I’m going to focus on what I’m doing at IMG and build this business out. You never know what life holds for you. I’m just going to take it one day at a time, work my tail off to be the best I can be at this and we’ll see what comes.”

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