Link receives backlash for labeling UGA soccer players as rapists and murderers

Calls are mounting for Athens-Clarke District Commissioner Melissa Link to apologize after she referred to the “rape and murder” of University of Georgia football players.

Link made the comment during a discussion at a budget hearing on Thursday about a proposed youth police cadet corps. She suggested recruiting ex-UGA athletes to fill vacancies in the police force.

“I think all the football players got drafted,” Commissioner Mike Hamby quipped.

“A lot of them rape and murder out there,” Link replied.

“Wow wow!” said Commissioner Mariah Parker. “Supposedly. Jesus.”

The comment caught the ear of State Assemblyman Houston Gaines (R-Athens).

On Monday evening, Commissioner Patrick Davenport issued a statement distancing himself from Link’s comment:

At last Thursday’s ACC commission meeting, District 3 Commissioner Melissa Link made what was viewed by many as blanket libel against UGA football players and the associated athletic program at the University of Georgia. Commissioner Link’s statement does not reflect the views of myself or my campaign as I am grateful for the countless contributions to our city and its history made by players past, present and UGA. I am also grateful for the many positive contributions and commitment that Commissioner Link has made to Athens. We must improve our political dialogue and discourse and work together to make Athens great!

Alvin Sheats, President of the Athens Chapter of the NAACP, also condemned Link’s comment:

In our beloved nation, you are innocent until proven guilty. It is incumbent on all of us, including our elected officials, to remember and cherish this fundamental principle. Commissioner Link was unable to make this outrageous and outrageous statement about UGA football players. She should be ashamed and has an obligation to retract that statement and apologize to these young men and to all of our residents. If she refuses, the mayor and the commission should publicly and as a collective body condemn her statements in a clear and unequivocal manner. Commissioner Link and all elected leaders must set the highest standards of justice and fairness and avoid any suggestion of promoting bias.

Conservative talk show host Tim Bryant had Gaines on his WGAU show this morning and said he invited Link but she declined.

Link said that Athenian Banner Herald that Gaines took her comment out of context.

“The fact is, the vast majority of collegiate athletes never even come close to reaching a professional career in athletics, and one would hope that a priority of the program would be to ensure these individuals transition smoothly into productive adulthood. Unfortunately, many don’t,” she said.

Former linebacker Alan Anderson was charged with rape in April. The rape allegations against another ex-Bulldog, Bacarri Rambo, were dropped last month. Akhil Crumpton, who played for UGA in 2017 and 2018, is accused of shooting and killing a local RaceTrac employee in 2021.

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