NCAA rules prevent UGA’s Mark Richt from attending Troup High graduation

AJC All-State offensive lineman Chris Burnette will be speaking at Troup High School's graduation ceremony on May 23

It looks like Georgia coach Mark Richt won’t be attending Troup High School’s graduation after all.

Georgia officials had unofficially contacted the NCAA to ask for permission for Richt to attend the graduation if Troup offensive lineman Chris Burnette would be speaking. But Burnette, who has already signed with Georgia, narrowly missed out on being class valedictorian.

When Richt asked to attend the May 23 graduation anyway, NCAA officials said that request was unlikely to approved.

“Mark still wanted to attend the graduation to support Chris,” UGA compliance director Eric Baumgartner said. “However, after speaking with the NCAA, they were comfortable with [Burnette] being valedictorian, but the NCAA couldn’t get there for [Richt] to attend the ceremony without Chris being the valedictorian.”

Richt didn’t know that NCAA rules prohibited him from attending such ceremonies until after he had promised to try to attend Burnette’s graduation if the lineman earned the school’s No. 1 academic honor.

Violating the rule likely would result in a secondary NCAA violation. Georgia athletic spokesperson Claude Felton said, at least for now, Richt will not be present at Burnette’s speech.

“If, for some reason, circumstances change, then I’m sure we’ll reconsider our position,” Felton said.

NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said Tuesday that the sport’s governing body has not denied a waiver for Richt to attend Burnette’s graduation because an official request was never submitted.

“Ultimately, the university decided not to file a waiver,” Osburn said. “If a waiver request was filed, it would have been considered like any other waiver request from a member institution.”

Will Georgia file a request? “No, because we have received verbal indication from the NCAA that if Chris is not valedictorian, then there would probably be no extraordinary circumstances that would be grounds for a waiver,” Felton said.

Burnette said Richt delivered the bad news on Monday. “He was disappointed. [But] I’m still thankful that Coach Richt even tried as hard as he did to attend. The NCAA has rules, and sometimes there’s just no way around them.”

The 6-foot-3, 286-pound Burnette has a 5.12 GPA on a 4.0 scale and has made nothing but straight A’s since kindergarten.

Burnette had initially planned to graduate after his first semester at Troup so he could enroll early at Georgia to get a jumpstart on his college football career. However, Burnette changed his mind and decided to stay in high school this spring to compete for valedictorian honors, with the full support of Georgia’s coaches. Richt said he had never recruited a valedictorian before.

The NCAA’s David Pickle helped bring the story into the spotlight of the college football world when he blogged specifically about Burnette on the NCAA’s official website last week before it was revealed that Burnette barely missed being valedictorian. [Note: Click here to go to the NCAA blog]

“Surely we can stipulate that the appropriate outcome here is for Mark Richt to be able to attend the graduation ceremony if he wants to do so,” Pickle wrote. “One of the hallmarks of Myles Brand’s administration as NCAA president has been to provide flexibility to schools when the circumstances of a situation appear to fall outside of the intended scope of a rule. This case seems to fit exactly with that philosophy …”

“Rules are not always perfect, but neither are they always rigid. The key to fairness often is found in the flexibility of application, and on that count, the NCAA often deserves more credit than it receives.”

Coming up next: The ball is in UGA’s court. They have to decide whether or not to file an official waiver request to get an official response from the NCAA. Will the NCAA approve the waiver? Will they deny it? Burnette’s graduation is May 23, leaving plenty of time for everything to play out in the best interests of all parties involved.

145 comments Add your comment

d

April 28th, 2009
4:06 pm

This is absurd. Mark Richt makes an effort to support the academic achievements of a “STUDENT athlete” and is prevented from doing so. I say go anyway.

LeeDawg

April 28th, 2009
4:21 pm

What a shame – and I thought the NCAA supported education. What message are we sending now?

e

April 28th, 2009
4:22 pm

UGA finally gets a STUDENT athlete and they don’t know what to do with themselves. Funny.

fishtales

April 28th, 2009
4:23 pm

No pickle-boy…the NCAA does NOT deserve more credit than it receives.

LeeDawg

April 28th, 2009
4:24 pm

e — you might want to check the graduation record of the UGA football program. Funny comment, but lacks integrity.

steve

April 28th, 2009
4:28 pm

The NCAA rulebook makes our tax codes look simple by comparison. There are so many rules and many of them seem to contradict each other. UGA were smart in checking ahead of time. Often times, the NCAA rules go against logic. This is one of them. Isn’t Chris Burnette already committed to UGA? If so, is not the recruiting process over? There is no reason to keep Coach Richt from attending.

ATL attorney/esq.

April 28th, 2009
4:29 pm

I like Eric Baumgartner’s work. I hope he sends in the official paperwork to the NCAA. Then all the pressure will be on the NCAA. There’s not a chance in heck they will deny it, especially after Mr. Pickle’s public rant. I’ve never been prouder of Richt for wanting to do this for all the right reasons. This is an inspirational story. Congrats Chris from one proud Georgia booster.

jimmy

April 28th, 2009
4:30 pm

Maybe Mr. Pickle can blog again about the flexibility of the NCAA and the other great qualities of Miles Brand – arrogant idiots.

I don’t think the NCAA is in any danger here of setting a precedent. How many elite high school athletes just miss being their school valedictorian? What a terrible message to send to student athletes that their grades are only masquerading as a guise to have another recruiting visit.

e

April 28th, 2009
4:31 pm

LeeDog (I refuse to purposefully misspell words) – a monkey can pass some of the majors that your football players take.

Ozzfest

April 28th, 2009
4:32 pm

The bigger crime that the NCAA should look into is the $100 that Ok State is charging Georgia season ticket holders for the game in Stillwater.

DFARASDFG

April 28th, 2009
4:32 pm

He should dress up in a costume and go.

LeeDawg

April 28th, 2009
4:33 pm

e – dawg is spelled correctly and is in the dictionary. Try using one.

Where did you go to school?

Majurzz

April 28th, 2009
4:34 pm

Richt should get to go. If it were Kiffin, Saban,Miles or somebody like that I could understand the NCAA denying it. Richt is a great guy and a great coach, he cares about his players so he should have been allowed to go. I think the govenor should make a plea to the NCAA. Heck it happens when these senators call and whine about their team not getting a BCS game.This is a crock.

Mark Z

April 28th, 2009
4:36 pm

Ridiculous…..don’t worry we will see this beast on the field soon enough

Rock

April 28th, 2009
4:38 pm

as usual the ncaa is shown to be a joke.
Money is the only thing that matters to them

dap01

April 28th, 2009
4:45 pm

Thanks NCAA, the world is a much better place with that ruling. Perhaps you should take the same approach to Reggie Bush (oh, I didn’t realize that my mother recieved a new house).

I have the same confidence in the NCAA as I do a NBA referee.

John

April 28th, 2009
4:46 pm

e- the graduation suffers greatly with so many going pro…but very seldom is a player kicked off a squad for being ineligible academically. And UGA has a lot of student athletes. Not all come close to Valedictorian, but I’m willing to bet not many D1 football programs, save Duke or Vanderbilt or Stanford, etc can claim that anyways.

The NCAA continues to make a mockery of anything they’re involved with.

Matt

April 28th, 2009
4:46 pm

Well, I guess it just goes to show what side of the student-ATHLETE part of the equation that the NCAA is on.

Ted

April 28th, 2009
4:47 pm

Majurzz-

You are a crock…Go back and look at what type of program Richt runs. More arrest on his team than any in the SEC and the country in the last 12 months. What a guy…he would be the last coach I would allow. I think its funny how you homers are so blind by your issues and like to focus on other schools that basically have cleaner programs.

HAHAHA

Saint Simons

April 28th, 2009
4:52 pm

45-42!!!!!!! hahahahahahaha and wait this year will be a real beating!!!!!!!!!

Mac

April 28th, 2009
4:58 pm

NCAA: ‘Wipes are us

shannon

April 28th, 2009
5:04 pm

Go anyway. This could get good PR and lead to changes in the NCAA rules for the good.

Tyre

April 28th, 2009
5:07 pm

Maybe Michael Adams should go. Certainly that is not an NCAA violation.

coachx

April 28th, 2009
5:10 pm

Tech fans are so classless.

Win one game in nearly a decade by 3 points and your talking about beatings.

Grow up !

Will

April 28th, 2009
5:12 pm

Ted,

You are confused about how long 12 months goes back in time.

Did your parents call you Teddy as a child? Ted, Teddy, Theodore – they all sound like a momma’s boy to me.

angry banker

April 28th, 2009
5:16 pm

John and e – http://collegefootball.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=722328 the most recent data I could find was from 10/07. John you’re axactly right, many players leave early to play in the NFL. not becasue they’re not smart or because they’re unmotivated; but because of the money an NFL contract brings. UGA is very similar to Oklahoma and Texas other power house programs with a great education system.

On the other hand, look at schools that aren’t putting kids in the NFL and are low or lower on graduation rates – for example, Hawaii, Arizona, UAB, etc etc.

The trutch is UGA is the big boy on the block – and everyone loves to take shots at the big boy. I’M NOT A DAWG FAN, BUT UGA IS RUNNING A GOOD PROGRAM

Beauregard

April 28th, 2009
5:16 pm

45-42 was almost as funny as 41-30…in Athens…during a blackout (31-0 at halftime).

PaulDawg

April 28th, 2009
5:19 pm

This is absurd- I say Coach Richt goes and deals with the consequences. The message it sends to prospective students will be greater than the penalties, anyway.

Chicagodawg

April 28th, 2009
5:23 pm

Everyone should flood the inbox of the individual that posted David Pickle’s ridiculous blog entry. The link is above. Apparently he doesn’t have enough convictions behind his own words to post his individual email address.

I for one, as an alumni, would fully support Richt in breaking this particular rule and living with the sanctions.

Wyld Byll Hyltnyr

April 28th, 2009
5:26 pm

“Richt said he had never recruited a valedictorian before.” I guess that says all one needs to know about UGA football. Even UNLV baketball receruited valedictorians during the Tarkanian era.

Chicagodawg

April 28th, 2009
5:28 pm

Flood David Pickle’s in bin.

NCAA Denies Richt - VolNation

April 28th, 2009
5:29 pm

[...] Denies Richt Says no to waiver request. NCAA rules prevent UGA

Dawg Man

April 28th, 2009
5:38 pm

All Dawg fans should unite, and send emails to Pickle at dpickle@ncaa.org and the other NCAA management. I found all the addresses on this page: http://www.ncaa.org/wps/ncaa?ContentID=27178
Woof woof woof!!!!

BS Patrol

April 28th, 2009
5:40 pm

Richt would not use this as a publicity stunt to try to improve GA’s somewhat tarnished academic reputation, would he?

HBTD

April 28th, 2009
5:41 pm

RIDICULOUS!!!!! Just shows what the NCAA really cares about. I think Richt should go anyway, and when the NCAA tries to hand him a rule violation, every DAWG fan, and every other college football fan who supports STUDENT-athletes, should inundate their offices with emails, letters, and phone calls complaining so much that the NCAA would have no choice but to reverse the ruling or risk looking like hypocrites. I guess only one thing matters to the NCAA.

Don - Tech Fan

April 28th, 2009
5:45 pm

Just curious – What if this athlete attended the same high school and the same church at Coach Richt’s children. And, what if he were to want to recruit this athlete or attend the graduation of his child. Would the all powerful NCAA (No Common sense At All) tell Coach he couldn’t attend that church any longer or attend the graduation of his child because this athlete was being recruited or now signed? Just curious. Pickle needs to understand the difference between having a factual basis and reality basis for making decisions. I actually feel sorry for Pickle because he doesn’t have the b-lls to stand up for himself and let common sense prevail. He can’t make a decision for himself in good faith with the NCAA without being worried about “setting a precedent”. He needs to ask himself – how many times has an athlete who is already signed to play for a university asked a coach to attend the graduation. Who cares if he speaks or not – this should be the coaches decision – not the NCAA’s. He is smug and arrogant and that’s just the most positive things I can think to describe him. Everything in this world is not based on Black / White, Right / Wrong, Yes / No. Somewhere in there has to be consideration for the Gray area. Why did the NCAA approve Coach Richt’s attendance and take it away? The difference in their decision was hundreths of a point on a report card. Shame on the NCAA and Pickle for extremely poor example of leadership and Kudos to Coach Richt and UGA for their leadership and support of this yound man and their fine program.

Jeff

April 28th, 2009
5:45 pm

WHY?? It’s is a problem in our country to modivate kids as it is….NCAA is BIG BROTHER!!

Vandy

April 28th, 2009
5:45 pm

Tech fans are the worst fan base in the nation, hands down. They hate UGA more than they love Tech. It’s sad.

angry banker

April 28th, 2009
5:47 pm

Ted – where did you find those arrest records? I’ve searched forever and I can’t ever find arrest records per school or per ncaa athlete or anything of the sort.

It would be interesting to compare one school to another… or are you just guessing and making stuff up?

Otto

April 28th, 2009
5:49 pm

What is Pickles e-mail addy?

Seems the NCAA is still holding the End Zone Dance against CMR. What a load of crap, can’t see a SIGNED player’s graduation ceremony.

CMR does not need to break the rules.

Lord of The Lizards

April 28th, 2009
5:49 pm

If I was Richt, I would send a family member just as a show of protest. Even if he were to go himself, whats a secondary violation?? Lyin’ Lane gets one of those a month! The NCAA has some strange rules that sometimes don’t make sense. What would be the harm say if he DID go but did’t have contact with the young man. It would show that coaches care about the academic as well as the athletic aspect of a recruit…

BS Patrol

April 28th, 2009
5:50 pm

Hey Carvell, Why don’t you email me & tell me why you won’t post my blogs? Too truthful for you?

Otto

April 28th, 2009
5:50 pm

Vandy, very true and I can verify as I was a GT student for a while.

Einstein

April 28th, 2009
5:52 pm

What a crock! What better reason do you need to disolve the NCAA, and rid the universities, colleges, and taxpayers of a financial drain. I may not be the sharpest pencil in the drawer, but isn’t it all about education? Student athlete? Or, maybe it’s all about protecting your territory…exercising your authority…justifying your job. Please tell me what purpose they actually serve. Just like the idiots (I mean brain trust we send to represent us in Washington), throw the bums out! And, replace them (if needed) with good ole common sense. Peace.

Freehawk

April 28th, 2009
5:55 pm

I’m not a UGA or Richt fan. But that is absurd. YOu can always count on the NCAA to do the wrong thing.

59bulldawg

April 28th, 2009
5:57 pm

Screw ‘em! Go anyway.

Chiefbaldeagle

April 28th, 2009
5:59 pm

If the NCAA is allowing Auburn to use a tricked out stretch limo as a recruiting aid, to lure kids to Auburn, by going to their houses and schools in it. Why can’t Richt be allowed to go to a signee’s graduation? the kid has committed, and signed the LOI. Auburn is using this tricked out limo to send the message ( come play for auburn and get a limo, or at least a limo ride } There are some schools that don’t have the money for a stretch limo. And then there is a coach so proud of a kids academics he wants to attend the graduation? Isn’t that contradictory? The NCAA wants kids to make good grades to enter college look at the tough classes the kids have to pass to be cleared by the NCAA. Clearly listed on their website

gtforever

April 28th, 2009
6:05 pm

LeeDawg, the academic record of UGA’s football program…. You are kidding…. Right! There is NO record, it sux, one of the worst in college football. We don’t even have to factor in Vince Dooley’s record, he ran one of the MOST penalized programs in all of college football. Funny, I can’t even believe you brought academics up….. LOL

Crosby

April 28th, 2009
6:06 pm

I’m a Tech fan and I think this is a horrible call by the NCAA. The STUDENT is already committed to the dawgs so there is no unfair advantage here. That is an awesome accomplishment. The problem with the NCAA is that nobody stands up to them until they are ruling against their program. If the schools ever want real change they should just leave the NCAA. If these coach’s really wanted a playoff then one of them would have the balls to refuse to play in the MNC game. All these coach’s and AD’s whine and complain about the playoff system and other things but when it favors them they suddenly shut up.

CJDawg

April 28th, 2009
6:07 pm

Don-Tech Fan @ 5:45 seems to have the most level headed and common sense response to this. If you missed it, scroll back and read it. Thanks Don.