Lawsuit: Georgia staff knew of drinking at events, impermissible cash payments

An amended court filing in the case of a former Georgia football recruiting analyst seriously injured in a crash a year ago contends staff members frequently drove vehicles rented by the school’s athletic association after drinking.

Additionally, attorneys representing the woman said coaches spent money on recruits during unofficial visits, against NCAA rules.

The bombshell accusations were part of a report Thursday from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which reviewed court papers filed in the case of Victoria “Tory” Bowles, the survivor of an accident that killed a fellow member of the recruiting staff and a Bulldogs football player.

She is suing the Georgia Athletics Association, as well as the estate of Chandler LeCroy, who was killed in the Jan. 15, 2023 crash, and Philadelphia Eagles rookie Jalen Carter. Carter pleaded no contest to racing and reckless driving in March after being linked to the accident. He was sentenced to probation and community service.

LeCroy was driving a rented SUV when the vehicle veered off the road and hit two power poles and several trees.

LeCroy was killed, as was Devin Willock, a Georgia offensive lineman. Toxicology reports showed LeCroy had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.197 percent — nearly 2 1/2 times the Georgia limit — when the SUV she was driving was traveling 104 mph.

“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 the newspaper. “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.”

A university official said the school is prepared to fight the allegations.

“We are reviewing the amended complaint, but we dispute its claims and will vigorously defend the Athletic Association’s interests in court,” said Steven Drummond, a Georgia executive associate athletic director, per the newspaper.

The filing includes text messages purportedly from Bowles’ phone that discuss school staff members drinking at football-related events, including one at head coach Kirby Smart’s house, warning them not to consume too much alcohol.

“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,” read one text message from 2019, reportedly from a staff member. “It will be a bad look if we have people who are supposed to be driving recruits getting lit.”

Bowles’ amended lawsuit also touches upon what she alleges was a practice of coaches and staff paying for a recruit’s expenses during unofficial visits, which is not permitted.

“Ms. Bowles was aware from her own observations and from prior communications from her superiors of UGA football coaches’ use of cash in recruiting activities involving unofficial visits prior to that evening,” the filing reads, per the Journal-Constitution.

Since filing her initial lawsuit last summer, Bowles was fired from her job. In her case, she is seeking nearly $200,000 for medical bills, lost wages and unspecified damages.