Kirby Smart: No culture problem, no policy change as a result of fatal crash

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart speaks during the champions news conference at Los Angeles Airport Marriott, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. (Hyosub Shin /



Georgia head coach Kirby Smart speaks during the champions news conference at Los Angeles Airport Marriott, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. (Hyosub Shin /

Georgia coach Kirby Smart said the football program does not have a culture problem and there will be no policy changes as a result of a car accident that killed a player and a support staff member earlier this year. Smart spoke to ESPN on Friday, his first comments on the program’s grim offseason that has included two deaths and two arrests.

Through the university, Smart has not responded to several interview requests from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, including one as recently as this week.

In addition to the Jan. 15 crash in which offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruiting specialist Chandler LeCroy were killed, two players have been arrested in the past two weeks for racing and reckless driving. Jamon Dumas-Johnson was arrested last week for an incident that occurred the day after Georgia won its second consecutive national championship. Jalen Carter was arrested Wednesday as part of the investigation of the accident that killed Willock and LeCroy and injured two others, hours after a parade to celebrate the national title. Police said LeCroy was going 104 mph at the time of the crash at 2:45 a.m. A GBI toxicology report cited her blood alcohol concentration at .197, about 2½ times the legal limit. Carter previously has been ticketed for speeding, traveling 89 mph in a 45 mph zone.

“Absolutely not. I would say we’re far from it,” Smart told ESPN on Friday when asked whether the program has a problem. “When you talk to people outside our program that come into it, they talk about what a great culture we do have -- and we do an incredible job. Because I’ve got a lot of outside entities that come into our program and pour into these young men.

“Do we have perfect young men and women and players? Not necessarily. But I promise you this, that’s the intent: for us to grow these guys and get them better. And I feel really good about the culture within our program.”

LeCroy was driving a 2021 Ford Expedition, a vehicle rented by the university to transport recruits visiting for the weekend. Georgia previously stated that LeCroy was not authorized to drive the vehicle. It has not answered the questions of who gave LeCroy the keys to the vehicle, why it was not turned in following the day’s events, whether there is a policy to ensure a vehicle is not used without authorization and why LeCroy, a university employee, had the vehicle in the early morning hours to fraternize with athletes.

“Absolutely not. Absolutely not,” Smart said in the interview when asked if it was LeCroy’s job to get players home that night.

Smart also said there were no policy changes as a result of the crash.

At a meeting of the university’s athletic association board in February, Georgia president Jere Morehead said he wasn’t sure whether policy changes would be made.

“So far, I haven’t seen anything that has caused me concern,” Morehead said. “Obviously we wish the vehicle had been turned in that evening. But the review is ongoing, and I’m confident that if any procedures need to be changed – I’m not sure they will need to be changed – but I’m confident that our athletic director and head coach will do whatever they need to do.”

Smart said he was awoken at 3 a.m., by his wife, and went to the emergency room the morning of the fatal crash.

“Inside our building, we’ve got 130 football players that are hurting and have been dealing with pain. And we’ve emotionally supported those guys’ mental health,” Smart said in the interview. “We had several players that struggled to come back after the parade that have really dealt with this. It’s been a tough, trying time for our family, our in-house family, both staff and players. And we continue to support both the Willock and Chandler families.”

Dave Willock, Devin’s father, told the AJC on Friday that the school and police have not told him details of the crash as the investigation has unfolded.

Smart said officers from the local police departments were brought in last summer to educate about the dangers of street racing. In an email to the AJC on Thursday, Sr. Deputy Director of Athletics Darrice Griffin listed several areas of “critical life skills programming and discuss community standards in the areas of personal well-being, mental and physical health, inclusion and safety.” In the list was “vehicle and traffic safety in partnership with local authorities.”

“I mean, there (are) laws in place for these things, to prevent it for a reason,” Smart said in the interview. “And we want to educate our players in every way, every part of our organization. We’re constantly looking for a better way in whatever that is, health and safety included. I talked about drugs and alcohol, talked about gambling, talk about racing in cars and high speeds. You have to educate your players and you have to make sure they understand the risks and dangers of that, and that’s something that we’ve tried to do.”