ATHENS – Four months ago when Georgia football player Jonathan Ledbetter was arrested trying to get into a nightclub, the arresting officer had this as the final line in his report:
“A gentleman by the last name of Gant approached and informed me he was Coach Gant and inquired about Ledbetter.”
That Bryant Gantt’s last name was misspelled was surprising, considering how often he pops up around town. And he’s one of the Georgia football program’s most underrated staffers.
The relationship between police and the black community is getting a lot of attention, and Georgia’s football team is mostly black (55 of the approximately 80 scholarship players.)
Something that may help Georgia’s football program is the presence of Gantt, a former Bulldog player who has worked for the team since 2011. Prior to that he spent 19 years at the law firm Cook, Noell, Tolley and Bates, where he worked as a legal assistant, investigator and process server.
“He’s close with some of the cops,” former Georgia linebacker Reuben Faloughi said. “You would see Gantt talking with the cops. I think that kind of bridged the gap between the team and the police.”
Gantt has long acted as a liaison between the program and law enforcement, from organizing law enforcement days at practice, and showing up as players are being arrested and advising them before court cases.
It doesn’t stop players from being arrested, but it helps avoid situations getting worse.
“He’s just a guy who does everything with the program,” Faloughi said. “He was just well-connected in Athens with law enforcement, and he kept us accountable, and also made sure we were protected.”
“I think a lot of guys feel more comfortable going to him, because he was a guy that you knew, was there when you needed him,” former Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley said of Gantt. “They’d call coach (Mark) Richt, then they’d call (Gantt).”
Former Georgia receiver Justin Scott-Wesley said Gantt was by his side continually in the aftermath of Scott-Wesley’s misdemeanor marijuana arrest, helping with everything from bail to the court process.
“It definitely helped. Because being a student-athlete I have a lot of things on my plate that a regular student who got in trouble didn’t have to deal with,” Scott-Wesley said. “He reminded me of the processes I had to do, the things I had to do.”
Gantt – who wasn’t available for an interview – carries the official title is “program coordinator II.” His bosses weren’t available to talk about him either, but they spoke with their pocket books earlier this year: After earning $84,000 last year, Gantt saw his pay bumped up to $125,000.