Jalen Carter should have never been given vehicle in fatal crash: UGA lawsuit
The $40 million lawsuit may be one of the first to include a Name, Image, Likeness sponsor.
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The $40 million lawsuit filed Wednesday against the University of Georgia Athletics Department over a fatal crash after the football team’s national championship parade is also one of the first involving Name, Image, Likeness (NIL).
The lawsuit places blame for the crash on former UGA star defensive lineman Jalen Carter, who has already signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles after being selected in last month’s NFL draft.
NIL is a relatively new practice, but has already turned the NCAA into a lawless frontier in which athletes, schools and boosters all are bidding for the nation’s top collegiate athletes. NIL allows those athletes to earn money by selling their NIL to companies for endorsements and similar arrangements.
According to the lawsuit, Carter was named a “Sarchione Athlete” as part of his NIL deal. In exchange, Sarchione Auto Group gave Carter a Jeep Trackhawk in September 2022. This is the vehicle in which Carter is alleged to be street racing another vehicle driven by Chandler LeCroy on Jan. 15, 2023.
The subsequent crash killed LeCroy, a 24-year-old UGA football staffer, and UGA football player Devin Willock, 20. LeCroy was driving a 2021 Ford Expedition that belonged to the university. LeCroy’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit as she was traveling 104 miles per hour just before the crash, according to police records.
The lawsuit claims Sarchione Auto Group was negligent in giving the Jeep - equipped with a V-8 engine capable of reaching a top speed of 180 miles per hour - to Carter. It also claims the vehicle is a “favorite” among illegal speed racers, and that the company was negligent in supervising Carter’s use of the vehicle.
Since July 2021, more than 360 UGA student-athletes have taken part in NIL activities, while at Georgia Tech, more than 250 have done so.
Carter already has pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and street racing in connection with the crash. He was given 12 months’ probation and a $1,000 fine.
Wednesday’s lawsuit was filed by Dave Willock, father of Devin Willock. It names the University of Georgia Athletic Association, multiple employees as well as LeCroy’s estate, Toppers International, Carter and multiple liability companies.
Willock’s attorneys claim prospective football recruits were at Toppers, an Athens strip club, on the night of the crash and that LeCroy was served alcohol at UGA events while assigned to drive recruits and families around.
Willock’s family is asking for $40 million and attorney fees.
The University of Georgia Athletic Association issued the following statement about the lawsuit.
MORE COVERAGE FROM ATLANTA NEWS FIRST
- UGA fan met player Devin Willock one day before his death
- Kirby Smart defends UGA football program after car crash, arrests
- Former UGA star Jalen Carter pleads no contest related to deadly crash
- UGA football staffer drunk, driving 104 mph before deadly crash, police say
- 911 calls appear to place former UGA defensive lineman at scene of deadly crash
- UGA’s football success marred by off-the-field issues
- What are the charges facing Jalen Carter?
- Family of UGA player killed in crash holds private celebration of life service
- Funeral services held for UGA staffer Chandler LeCroy in her hometown
- UGA Athletic Department reviews crash that killed UGA player, staffer
- Community devastated after UGA player, staffer killed in crash
- UGA player, staffer among two dead after car crash in Athens-Clarke County
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