UGA's Etienne faces suspension after DUI arrest

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ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia running back Trevor Etienne faces disciplinary action from both the university and athletic department following his DUI arrest over the weekend, coach Kirby Smart said Tuesday.

Under athletic department policy, Etienne will miss 10% of Georgia’s season — which equates to at least one game under the Bulldogs’ 12-game schedule — if found guilty of DUI. The Bulldogs open the 2024 season Aug. 31 in Atlanta against Clemson.

Etienne was traveling 80 to 90 mph in a 50-mph zone at approximately 1:50 a.m. Sunday and twice crossed over a double yellow line to pass vehicles, according to an Athens-Clarke County Police Department report. Etienne, a transfer from Florida, told police he was trying to get home and admitted to drinking three beers “way earlier.

Etienne, the younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne, was driving a 2024 Audi RS7 and declined to consent to a field sobriety test. Police said he had slurred speech, glossy eyes and was swaying back and forth while standing on flat ground. When the arresting officer asked Etienne for an ID, he gave him his car key.

In addition to DUI, Etienne was also charged with reckless driving, failure to maintain lane/improper driving on the road and affixing materials that reduce visibility of windows/windshield. The DUI charge is classified as “less safe,” which in Georgia means he can be convicted even if his blood alcohol level is less than .08.

Smart said part of the process in determining Etienne’s discipline is allowing the legal process to run its course.

The coach opened his weekly news conference Tuesday by praising Etienne as a “great kid, great person” and noting how much he enjoyed being coached and loved the competition.

“As we also know, kids sometimes don’t make the best decisions,” Smart said. “The older you get, sometimes the tougher the consequences are for your mistakes. So, he’s not going to let this mistake define him. He’s embarrassed. He’s upset. He knows he made a mistake. It’s a teaching moment, and we hope he gets better from it.

Etienne, 19, rushed for 1,472 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in two seasons with the Gators. He was being counted on to be a major cog in the Bulldogs’ running game this season.

Georgia football players were arrested or cited for speeding or reckless driving at least 14 times last year after the Jan. 15, 2023 crash that killed offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy. Speeding and alcohol played a role in that crash, police said.

Smart told ESPN that his players are continually counseled on the dangers of driving recklessly and/or impaired. Guest speakers are regularly brought in to talk to the team, and one who spoke to the Bulldogs prior to the start of last season was former NFL receiver Donte Stallworth, who killed a pedestrian in Florida in 2009 while driving drunk.

“It wasn’t just because of some of the issues we’ve had, but we got [Stallworth] in here because over and above getting a DUI and all that entails, you can kill somebody,” Smart said. “I wanted our kids to hear it from somebody who had gone through something that terrible.”

Sophomore offensive tackle Earnest Greene III said players have had sessions with police officers, athletic director Josh Brooks and Smart about not putting themselves in a position to drive drunk. Smart has also stressed the importance of players looking out for each other and policing each other.

“It’s on us,” Greene said.

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