UGA coach forced to change plans with Troup County valedictorian candidate

 

Chris Burnette

Chris Burnette

Georgia coach Mark Richt made a promise last month to Troup County offensive lineman Chris Burnette: If you’re the valedictorian, then I’ll be at your graduation to hear your speech.

However, as it turns out, NCAA rules will prevent Richt from attending the high school graduation. But he still plans on hearing Burnette’s speech.

“If Chris is the man and he gives the speech, hopefully they will tape it … I would absolutely watch it, I’d be excited to watch it,” Richt said. “I’ll make sure to check with compliance, but I can’t imagine that being [an NCAA] violation.”

Burnette, who signed with Georgia, said he is fine with the altered plans. “Everybody around here was excited about Coach Richt showing up at graduation. But he can’t do anything about the rules … I understand, it’s no big deal.”

“It really means a lot to me that [Richt] wanted to be there to support me. I knew there a chance he couldn’t make because of [NCAA rules], football practices, or the coaches going on summer vacation before the season. But [Richt] gave it his best, and that was very important to me …”

“If it happens [finishing as valedictorian] and I get to speak, we’ll record it and show it to Coach Richt later on. I’m excited about that, too.”

Burnette decided against enrolling early at Georgia so he could stay at Troup to compete for the No. 1 academic honor. Burnette has a 5.012 GPA and slight lead over two others in the valedictorian race. He has made straight A’s since kindergarten.

Got an item? Contact Michael Carvell at mcarvell@ajc.com

63 comments Add your comment

Jim

February 16th, 2009
4:47 pm

Just goes to show that the NCAA has there head in the sand sometimes.

good luck to you young man

Bigdawg 96

February 16th, 2009
4:37 pm

TechFan…If he is taking AP classes, he can have a GPA in that neighborhood. I took AP American History AP Calculus. An “A” in those classes are worth more.

PeligroPero

February 16th, 2009
4:35 pm

This rule may sound pretty stupid but in reality it helps the coaches. Think how many kids would hold out for a head coach to show up at their graduation before signing. It would be a nightmare for the coaches.

Brian

February 16th, 2009
4:29 pm

The NCAA makes Congress look smart. How contrary to common sense can the NCAA be?

Marietta Dawg

February 16th, 2009
4:18 pm

Fyi, this kid is an offensive lineman; therefore, Willie Martinez will not be his coach. Get your facts straight, williebkind.

BroLee

February 16th, 2009
4:13 pm

GREAT job young man!!! It’s stories like this that make me proud to be a 2nd generation Bulldog. Keep up the good work, and remain focused when you get to Athens!!!

AtlantaFan

February 16th, 2009
4:12 pm

Congratulations Chris Burnette as a scholar athlete. You didn’t get the grades or the scholarship without hard work and dedication. Enjoy your last few months of high school and continue to be a role model in the classroom and on the field.

champdawg

February 16th, 2009
4:00 pm

No Null he didn’t want to go to Teck and lower his standard

champdawg

February 16th, 2009
3:58 pm

The way you are accepting the fact that Coach can’t be at graduation shows what you are made of. Some guys would have taken it the wrong way but you know he would keep his word if he could, he always does. Welcome to Dawg Nation

null

February 16th, 2009
3:58 pm

Why would a kid with a 5.012 GPA ruin his chances at a good education by going to UGA? Might as well go to community college.