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

63 comments Add your comment


February 16th, 2009
6:12 pm

That’s a ridiculous policy by the bureaucrats at the NCAA. There should be no issues with Coach going to the graduation of an HS player who’s signed an LOI. The NCAA is such a crock of red tape!

Hats off to Burnette for this outstanding accomplishment.

Ga Boy

February 16th, 2009
6:03 pm

What a great kid? I can only hope my kids turn out as good as this fine young recruit. It’s nice to see a football recruit that exhibits greatness in the classroom also

Legend of Len Barker

February 16th, 2009
6:03 pm

Let’s get this straight. It’s okay to recruit 12-year-olds. It’s okay for an inebriated Bob Huggins to ralph on his car door in public. It was okay for Ohio State to wave their magic wand, pull a rabbit out of a hat, and make Andy Katzenmoyer eligible in the mid/late 1990s. It was fine for NC State to admit Chris Washburn with a supposed SAT score of 380 in the 1980s

But it’s not okay for a man who is the future head coach of a signed talent to celebrate with him a fantastic academic achievement.

The SEC and ACC can now stop paying for those commercials during games that highlight the academic universe of their respective universities. It’s clear that this is not the image the NCAA wants to portray.

lamar t.

February 16th, 2009
5:58 pm

Not Competent At All.The biggest joke ever.I’m tired of this bunch of Incompetent,know nothing sports wannabes.Academics trumps everything.I want to congratulate Chris Burnette for persevering.


February 16th, 2009
5:48 pm

Congratulations young man. Keep up the hardwork. You are already a role model for a lot of young kids. Good luck to you in all of your endeavors.

I must add that it is nice to see Tech fans show their support for this young man. You have shone a lot of class doing so.

[...] the Presses. Mark Richt Lied! UGA coach forced to change plans with Troup County valedictorian candidate | College Football Recrui… I am sure that this will be a major scandal rehashed ad nauseum on Dawg message [...]

Old Dawg

February 16th, 2009
5:44 pm

Between the idiotic no celebration rule and the inability of CMR to attend a signed recruit’s graduation, the NCAA really looks like a bunch of jerks. I understand that the rule was written to ward off any form of recruiting of underclassmen, but like many things, the intent has moved far away from reality!

Mark Richt

February 16th, 2009
5:40 pm

Dang, I was hoping to show off my latest spray-on tan and butt-cut.


February 16th, 2009
5:18 pm

The GPA over 4 comes from weighting honors classes more than others. Some schools do it, others don’t. Either way, it’s impressive that he’s both a highly recruited player and a top student. Wish he was interested in Tech, but best of luck!


February 16th, 2009
4:49 pm

Congratulations to a great young student athlete. This is obviously a man with agreat value system. My hat is off to his parents for putting in the hard work to raise an exemplary child. That is not easy and it doesn’t happen by accident.

With the exception of one game each year in late November, I hope he has a great career at UGA.