Southern University president writes open letter to Mark Richt, Georgia athletics
Ray Belton, the president and chancellor of the Southern University system, has expressed his deepest gratitude for the outpouring of support bestowed his student-athlete Devon Gales by Mark Richt and the University of Georgia.
In an open letter to the Bulldogs on Wednesday, Belton reiterated Southern’s appreciation for Georgia’s hospitality and willingness to aid the Jaguars’ football program and Gales following his spinal cord injury suffered in last weekend’s game in Athens.
Gales had successful surgery on Sunday to repair several spinal fractures in his neck. He has movement in his upper body and was transferred on Wednesday to Shepherd Center in Atlanta, a non-profit rehabilitation medical clinic for spinal cord & brain injury patients.
Here’s the content of Belton’s letter:
An open letter to University of Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity, HeadCoach Mark Richt, UGA officials, and the entire UGA communityA 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 BeltonPresident-Chancellor, Southern University