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.

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63 comments Add your comment

thomas johnson

February 17th, 2009
8:11 pm

It would be a shame if the NCAA did anything that would promote academics over athletics.

DawgsOnline » NCAA: Fix this bug

February 17th, 2009
2:34 pm

[...] The AJC reports that an NCAA rule will prevent Richt from following through on that promise. Here we have a student-athlete who has already signed a letter of intent, and Mark Richt can’t be there to honor his future player’s academic accomplishment. If Richt were invited to speak at the football team’s banquet and honor athletic accomplishments, that would be fine – it’s done all the time, and it’s within the rules. So what is different about showing up at the graduation of a student-athlete for whom the recruiting process is over? [...]

[...] Read more Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 Did You Know? Loading Quotes… setTimeout(”quoteRotator.quotesInit()”, 2000) [...]


February 17th, 2009
12:17 pm

This is great, but don’t you think the NCAA should be worrying more about the Reggie Bush / USC investigation instead of this? Oh that’s right, all the possible violations at USC get pushed under the rug!!!

[...] forced to change plans with Troup County valedictorian candidate Here’s the link In essence, the article says that Richt promised a recruit that if he were to become Valedictorian [...]


February 17th, 2009
10:44 am

I really appreciate your attention to scholastics. Seems like you might have chosen a better college though, Say like Georgia Tech!!! GO JACKETS!!!

EDSBS » Archive » CURIOUS INDEX, 2/17/2009

February 17th, 2009
10:06 am

[...] Richt is a dirty damned liar. Or the NCAA is full of terrible small men who make terrible small rules. (Our tipster suggests Kiffykins show up at graduation in Richt’s place. We could not agree [...]

Dixie Dog

February 17th, 2009
9:35 am

This kid is AWESOME! Glad he is going to be a DAWG. What a Great example he is to other kids. Yes you can be an athlete and do well in school.


February 17th, 2009
12:58 am

I hate all things red and black BUT congrats young man on a job well done.I hope you continue to excel in your academic studies.

Go for it...

February 17th, 2009
12:49 am

I’m a UGA fan, but I hope he follows in the footsteps of the guy (whose name escapes me at the moment) from FSU who is a Rhodes Scholar. We need a few more people out there who have the dedication to a star pupil as well as a star athlete. Its hard enough to excel in one of those aspects, let alone two!