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

Mort Merkel

February 16th, 2009
2:54 pm

Way to go, kid. Good attitude and good job in the classroom.

Mike T.

February 16th, 2009
3:09 pm

Hey Chris, how about a live internet
feed to Coach Richt? If rules permit.
I’m sure some video and computer savvy
personel could get that done for you.


February 16th, 2009
3:10 pm

Great to see a player who is also a good student. Maybe he can tutor the other recruits when he gets on campus.


February 16th, 2009
3:12 pm

How about an appeal to the NCAA? I’m sure an exception could be made. Maybe not, the NCAA is out of touch.


February 16th, 2009
3:20 pm

Such a great talent and mind to be put under the control of MARTINEZ!


February 16th, 2009
3:25 pm

When has the NCAA not been out of touch?


February 16th, 2009
3:27 pm

Seriously, this is one of the most out of touch NCAA rules out there, and is absolutely pathetic on the part of the NCAA. Let’s be honest though, the NCAA doesn’t seem to get too much right these days, i.e. playoff system?!?!

Anyways, congratulations Mr. Burnette, best of luck to you.

Tech Fan

February 16th, 2009
3:31 pm

Dang – as Tech fan, it’s things like this that make it hard sometimes to hate UGA as much as I’d like to.

Congratulations Chris and good luck keeping your lead for the top honor!


February 16th, 2009
3:49 pm

Contratulations, Chris. Keep doing what you’re doing and you can join the


February 16th, 2009
3:50 pm

there is no such thing as a “5.012″ GPA, UGA fans make up numbers!


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.


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


February 16th, 2009
4:00 pm

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


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.


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!!!

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.


February 16th, 2009
4:29 pm

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


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.

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.


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


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.


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!

Mark Richt

February 16th, 2009
5:40 pm

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

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!

[...] 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 [...]


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.

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.

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.

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


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.


February 16th, 2009
6:20 pm

hmm, i don’t remember receiving letter grades in kindergarten…..


February 16th, 2009
6:37 pm

Congrats to you Mr Burnette. Legend… you are right. Stop those commercials. They don’t mean a thing now. If I was CMR I would go to that graduation and dare the NCAA to make something out of it. That would cause a firestorm that might get some of these stupid rules changed.

Buddy El

February 16th, 2009
6:47 pm

Two things. If Burnette reads these comments the first thing he would do is tell FlaDawg the “shone” is spelled “shown” and Roger, the leadin to these comments specifically state “SINCE kindergarten” not including kindergarten.
Welcome to Dawgnation Mr. Burnette and congratulations whether you are the valedictorian or not. We want and need you.

Big B CH 99

February 16th, 2009
7:20 pm

As a Tech fan also, I find this NCAA rule to be very STUPID, the NCAA is way out of touch. If they want to make it so that coaches can’t use H.S. graduations for recruiting, then why don’t they say that coaches can only go to the graduation of recruits that have already signed LOI’s.

They could also say that the coaches can’t recruit (talk to) underclassmen at graduations.

But either way, CMR should be allowed to go to the guy’s graduation, especially if he’s valedictorian.


February 16th, 2009
7:24 pm

What kind of crazy rule is that? He’s already signed with Georgia, so what harm could it do for Richt to be there?


February 16th, 2009
8:04 pm

Richt actually followed a rule??? This recruit must not deserve the escalade that Thurman got?

Big Dawg 17

February 16th, 2009
8:10 pm

I got 3 tech grads working for me and total they don’t have a 5.012 GPA


February 16th, 2009
8:12 pm

You must have a very selective hiring process and a great company there big dawg 17! hahaha

[...] 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 boards. Dawg5150: [...]

Chuck Uga

February 16th, 2009
8:33 pm

Hey Mikey, two words…drop dead.


February 16th, 2009
8:34 pm

hey chuck, two words, if you can read, trailer park

Recruiting Guru

February 16th, 2009
9:04 pm

Why people be hatin on Richt? He follow rulez? It be our redneckz dat be threatenin fools dat go to other skoolz. they be buyin the caddys to. it aint richt or dooley. dey no da rulez.


February 16th, 2009
9:15 pm

Great story! Hopefully Chris can be an example to his future teammates at UGA…that you don’t have to let you great suffer in order to be a great athlete.


February 16th, 2009
9:16 pm

typo:Great story! Hopefully Chris can be an example to his future teammates at UGA…that you don’t have to let youR GRADES suffer in order to be a great athlete.

Valdosta Dawg

February 16th, 2009
9:21 pm

Thomas, the problem is that Richt won’t let him major in a real field. They will place him in recreation studies and ruin his intelligence just to win. Maybe, that’s why Calvin Johnson went to Tech to take real classes and learn. Let’s hope the program let’s him do what is best for him. I dont’t have much hope considering the past.

Woof Woof

February 16th, 2009
9:28 pm

You have to respect the fact that UGA is a highly respected university on par with the likes of Southern Poly, Devry, and ITT, while still having a football team that can compete with Appalacian State and Vanderbilt sometimes. I mean, our business school is only fourth in GA and our law school is freakin third in the state.

[...] rules will prevent Georgia head coach Mark Richt from attending the graduation of recruit Chris Burnette as [...]

Jacket Fan

February 16th, 2009
10:05 pm

Excellent job young man! Finishing at the top of your class demonstrates not only intellect, but more importantly, tremendous work ethic. Good luck to you in all your endeavors… except for the game on each Saturday after Thanksgiving! :)

The NCAA is a tangled nest of bureaucracy, hypocrisy, and chaos. Coach Richt should be allowed to attend and honor your outstanding accomplishment.

Woof Woof

February 16th, 2009
10:06 pm

Richt and staff will watch video of the speech like they did video of Tech’s offense. Them lazy losers will buy the cliff notes version at best and deal with the consequences. If need be, they will rush the field to get some respect.


February 16th, 2009
11:43 pm

What would lame kitten do? Oh yea, make another ncaa infraction and attend then write is off as a self reported violation. Congrats Chris and GATA!!!

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!


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.

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.

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 [...]


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!!!

[...] 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
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!!!

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

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? [...]

thomas johnson

February 17th, 2009
8:11 pm

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

Matter Of Degrees « the road to copacetic

February 18th, 2009
5:48 pm

[...] that he would attend Chris’s graduation to hear his valedictory speech. However, the NCAA unfortunately will prevent Coach Richt from fulfilling that promise. However, the NCAA unfortunately will prevent Coach Richt [...]

[...] Mark Richt will not be allowed to attend one of his signee’s graduation due to an NCAA rule.  Richt had made a deal with Chris Burnette, who declined to enroll early because of the possibility of becoming valedictorian, that Richt would attend the ceremony if Burnette earned the honor. [...]


March 23rd, 2009
10:15 pm

congrats to mr burnette…