Southern president writes open letter to UGA, Mark Richt

A little less than a week ago, the Southern Jaguars came into Athens to play the Georgia Bulldogs. They never expected for one of their own players to go do down with a life-threatening injury.

That is exactly what happened when Jaguars’ wide receiver Devon Gales made an awkward block on a kickoff and went down in a heap. He had to be stretchered off the field and taken to a local hospital.

Ever since the injury occurred, the Georgia athletic program has been trying to do all they can to help him. The program even flew in Gales’s parents at their own expense and covered all medical bills he has while at their hospital.

He has since been moved to Atlanta for rehabilitation, but Southern University wanted to show their appreciation for their generosity. According to Saturday Down South, University president and chancellor, Ray Belton, penned an open letter to the Georgia program and head coach Mark Richt, thanking them for all they had done for Gales.

Here is the full letter:

An open letter to University of Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity, Head
Coach Mark Richt, UGA officials, and the entire UGA community

A history-making Southern University Jaguar football game on the road against nationally ranked University of Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, Georgia, Saturday, September 26, 2015, has exemplified the true nature of sportsmanship, caring, and generosity.
During the third quarter of play in the Jaguars’ first match up against a Southeastern Conference team, SU wide receiver Devon Gales suffered a spinal injury. Devon underwent successful spinal surgery Sunday afternoon at Athens Regional Medical Center and is in good spirits.

From the moment of the accident, UGA and SU sports medicine staff worked side by side to tend to the injured SU player until he was taken off the field and transported to Athens Regional Medical Center. UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity immediately coordinated plans with SU Athletic Director Roman Banks for Devon’s care and support that included covering expenses to fly the student-athlete’s parents to Athens, Georgia, to be by his bedside.

At the medical center following the game, SU Head Coach Dawson Odums and members of the Jaguar Football team gathered with UGA Head Coach Mark Richt, other members of the UGA coaching staff, and team chaplains, to visit Devon. The UGA community has joined the Jaguar Nation in an extraordinary outpouring of prayers, love, and support for Devon and his family.

While Devon’s road to full recovery may be long, we are grateful for the prayers and excellent medical care and treatment that resulted in his successful surgery and improvement thus far. The extent to which the UGA officials and community have embraced our student-athlete is remarkable and it speaks volumes to their character and kindness.

I must also commend the UGA community for its hospitality shown to our athletic staff, team, and fans in and around Sanford Stadium. From excellent accommodations, to a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, we were pleased. On behalf of the Southern University System and the Southern University Department of Athletics, I extend a huge thank you to UGA officials, students, and alumni, the UGA community, and the Athens Regional Medical Center, for their care and support of Devon.

Best wishes,

Ray Belton
President-Chancellor, Southern University

The Georgia Bulldogs are certainly going to be remembered this season. It won’t be because they are so good on the field or even if they win the national championship. Fans will look back on this and realize what the program has done for another in their time of tragedy.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports

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