In the University of Georgia’s most extensive comments on the car crash that killed football player Devin Willock and a recruiting staff member, athletic director Josh Brooks said Tuesday the two were not on athletic department business at the time of the incident, which occurred after the Bulldogs celebrated their second straight national title.
The incident, which occurred in the early morning hours of Jan. 15 not far from the school’s Athens campus, has raised questions about the relationship between athletes and those who work in the athletic department.
“Out of respect for the families involved, we have refrained from making any public statements up to this point regarding the circumstances of the tragic accident that claimed two lives and injured two members of our campus community,” Brooks said in a statement.
“However, we want the public to know that the athletic department is conducting a thorough review, in coordination with appropriate legal counsel, to fully understand the circumstances surrounding this tragic event. We want to emphasize that these individuals were not engaged in athletic department duties around the time of this incident.”
An SUV driven by 24-year-old Chandler LeCroy, who worked in the recruiting department, left the road on a turn, sliced through a pair of utility poles, struck two trees and finally came to rest against an apartment building.
The 20-year-old Willock was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead the scene. LeCroy died a short time later, after being taken to a nearby hospital.
McClendon, who had announced hours earlier he was entering the NFL draft, received a laceration to the middle of his head. The other university employee, Victoria Bowles, survived with serious injuries.
The crash occurred after a parade through Athens and a celebration at Sanford Stadium to honor Georgia’s 65-7 rout of TCU in the national championship game.
The police report listed the owner of the 2021 Ford Explorer as EAN Holding, which is the official name for the rental vehicle company that does business as Enterprise.
It was not clear who had rented the vehicle, though it is similar to those used by the university for recruiting visits.
Excessive speed on a road with a 40 mph limit was listed as a cause of the crash, along with other, unspecified factors. Police said they were still investigating.
Brooks said the university was cooperating with police and that it also would review its policies to determine if any changes should be made in the wake of the incident. He said football coach Kirby Smart was part of those discussions.
“Our review is preliminary at this time, and the athletic department is fully cooperating with law enforcement officials to determine all the facts surrounding this tragedy,” Brooks said. “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.”