Ex-Georgia staffer alleges members of program regularly drove after drinking, per report

ATHENS, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 4: A Georgia Bulldogs helmet sits in the bench area during the fourth quarter against the Missouri Tigers at Sanford Stadium on November 4, 2023 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
The crash that killed a Georgia player and employee has created an ongoing legal saga for the progam. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

A former Georgia recruiting analyst alleged the program's staffers routinely drove after drinking in an amended lawsuit against the school, according to ESPN.

Victoria Bowles, who survived the crash that killed Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy in Jan. 2023, reportedly alleged that supervisors and coaches "encouraged" recruiting staff to drink alcohol at recruiting events, including at head coach Kirby Smart's house.

Bowles, who has since been fired by Georgia, filed a lawsuit in July naming the Georgia program, former Georgia star Jalen Carter and LeCroy's estate as defendants, alleging negligence prior to the crash and making false statements in the aftermath.

Police have claimed LeCroy and Carter were racing cars hours after winning the 2023 College Football Playoff championship game, with LeCroy allegedly reaching speeds of 104 mph with a blood alcohol concentration of .197. Willock and Bowles were in the backseat when LeCroy's SUV reportedly swerved off the road and hit two utility poles and two trees, killing LeCroy and Willock and leaving Bowles with significant injuries.

Bowles' lawsuit reportedly claims she sustained three lumbar fractures, five fractured vertebrae, 10 broken ribs, a broken clavicle, fractured and cracked teeth, kidney and liver lacerations, a punctured and collapsed lung, abdominal bleeding and a closed head injury, leaving her with more than $170,000 in medical expenses and "likely permanent disability."

This isn't the only lawsuit Georgia faces due to the crash, as Willock's father has also filed a complaint seeking $2 million in damages.

'If you are driving you can have fun at Coach Smart's'

The lawsuit reportedly contains what it claims to be text messages showing Bowles' bosses pushing them to drink with football recruits' families.

From ESPN:

The amended complaint included a Dec. 14, 2019, text message purportedly sent to 13 staff members by then-UGA director of player personnel Marshall Malchow, which said: "Hey guys... if you are driving you can have fun at Coach Smarts but if you are driving a recruit make sure you don't get drunk. It will be a bad look if we have people who are supposed to be driving recruits getting lit."

In a Feb. 22, 2022, text message, another athletic association employee told recruiting staff members that an associate athletics director said to turn a downtown Athens restaurant "into a bar with [recruits'] families and don't leave."

There are also allegations of Georgia coaches using cash in recruiting activities during unofficial visits, which is prohibited by the NCAA. Bowles reportedly claims assistant coach Chidera Uzo-Diribe asked her to use his ATM card to get $1,000 in cash on Jan. 14, 2023. When his card didn't work, she reportedly provided money from her home and was paid back by Venmo.

From ESPN:

"My client's iPhone survived the crash fully intact and contains thousands of pages of recruiting texts describing the inner workings of UGA's recruiting activities," Bowles' attorney, Rob Buck, said in a statement to ESPN. "The new texts included in the Amended Complaint establish that the Association was fully aware recruiting staffers were regularly allowed to drive recruits and their families around Athens after drinking alcohol at Association sponsored events. Some texts even show that football coaches and recruiting supervisors, in effect, encouraged staffers to drink with football prospects' families.

"The texts contradict the Association's pleadings and public statements to its fan base. The texts document that the Association knowingly allowed football staffers to drive Association SUVs while drinking even if UGA had policies stating otherwise."

Georgia, which has since claimed LeCroy didn't have permission to drive the rented SUV for personal use, promised to oppose Bowles' claims:

"We are reviewing the amended complaint, but we dispute its claims and will vigorously defend the Athletic Association's interest in court," a university spokesperson said in a statement Thursday.

Bowles, whose attorney claims was paid less than $12,000 per year, was reportedly on paid medical leave for approximately two months after the crash. She was placed on unpaid leave in March and officially learned she was fired in August.

Georgia said the firing was due to Bowles repeatedly refusing to cooperate with Georgia's investigation into the crash.

Carter avoided jail time from the incident by pleading no contest to two misdemeanors of racing and reckless driving. He received 12 months probation, a $1,000 fine, 80 hours of community service and was required to complete a driving course.