Should Richt violate NCAA graduation rule?

For those wondering whether Mark Richt is likely to attend UGA signee Chris Burnette’s May 23 Troup High School graduation in violation of a patently stupid NCAA rule, it looks like the answer is no. 

To recap the situation: Burnette, who signed with UGA in February, is a straight-A student and Richt had promised the kid that he’d attend his graduation if he was valedictorian, not realizing he’d need to get an NCAA waiver to do that. Burnette didn’t make valedictorian but was picked as one of the graduation speakers, and so Richt still wanted to attend. But when UGA inquired informally about getting a waiver from the NCAA, they were told that one would not likely be granted because the student wasn’t a valedictorian.  

Some folks thought Richt ought to go anyway and take a secondary NCAA violation on principle. But when I asked UGA compliance director Eric Baumgartner about the possibility of that, his reply was succinct: “We do not intentionally violate any NCAA rules.”

For an organization that claims to be concerned with promoting academics among student athletes, the NCAA’s position on this is ridiculous. The main argument against letting coaches attend graduations appears to be that pretty soon every coach would be promising to do that as an inducement to getting athletes to sign with their school. 

What would be the harm in that? Coaches promising to attend a ceremony if the student earns graduation honors, even if not the valedictorian, would seem to be a win-win situation. It would encourage student athletes to work hard, and it would promote academics in general. It’s definitely an issue the NCAA needs to revisit.

But I think Richt is entirely correct in refusing to “take one for the team” by deliberately violating an NCAA rule. It’s not the same as a private individual choosing to practice civil disobedience by getting arrested at a sit-in or demonstration against something unjust. Richt represents the University of Georgia, and for him to deliberately incur even a secondary NCAA violation would set a terrible precedent.

What do you think?

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41 comments Add your comment

RxDawg

May 14th, 2009
3:31 pm

RxDawg

May 14th, 2009
3:33 pm

But what the staff at Troup should of done, was make both of them co-valedictorians. I mean, how can one of those students be ranked above the other?

Voice of Reason

May 14th, 2009
3:35 pm

Nope. Im very proud of Burnette’s accompishment and think Richt shoud be able to attend, but shouldn’t break rules to do so.

AltamahaDawg

May 14th, 2009
3:56 pm

As I said a couple of weeks ago, I guarantee this is not a rule that coaches are trying to get changed because they cannot possible attend 25 graduation ceremonies every year. Where would you draw the line? As for patently stupid, I doubt anyone would say that if Urban Meyers was seen talking to one of our state of florida signees at his graduation next week, you know… because despite not committing to UF, he was still so darn proud of them. What stops Richt from talking to a couple of juniors that just happen to be at Burnette’s graduation. There is a reason that the NCAA has to cover every possible contingency with a silly rule.

I have far less issues with rules that limit contact, even if there are some inintended consequences, than rules that punish an attempt to provide transportation to a funeral or something along those lines.

Jimmy Crack Corn

May 14th, 2009
3:58 pm

And I don’t care.

uga_b

May 14th, 2009
4:11 pm

He should go…dressed as Lane Kiffin. UT could use the publicity…

Otto

May 14th, 2009
4:21 pm

No he should not break rules to attend. The NCAA and SEC does not need anything further to focus on UGA.

Voice of Reason

May 14th, 2009
4:40 pm

cared enough to post a comment though didn’t ya?

murfdawg

May 14th, 2009
5:11 pm

We have finally gotten the refs off our back for “breaking the rules in Jax”. Don’t give the NCAA any excuse to go to Athens and sniff around. If we make them look bad and embarrass them by knowingly violate a rule, it would be terrible. H$ll hath no fury like a NCAA rule scorned!!

AltamahaDawg

May 14th, 2009
5:25 pm

Especially since the goal has already been accomplished.

Frank Lane

May 14th, 2009
5:32 pm

I think Richt should stay put, and that we fans should organize a contingent of at least 100 of us who will attend to support academic achievement and serve as Mark Richt’s emissaries.

AltamahaDawg

May 14th, 2009
6:19 pm

aren’t emissaries regulated by the EPA?

Val E. Dicktorian

May 14th, 2009
7:00 pm

ALL the rules are stupid!

Cuz

May 14th, 2009
8:18 pm

If the graduation ceremony is at night would that make us Nocturnal emmissaries?

Charlotte Jacket

May 14th, 2009
10:52 pm

Now that Bill King and the AJC are going to email me to invite me to read each of his new posts, I thought I’d drop one more comment.

Serious congratulations to Mr. Burnette for his academic achievements and to UGA for recruiting and signing him. I’m sure AltamahaDawg is right that this rule has to be in place to keep the worst element of coaches from abusing graduations, but I hate that Coach Richt can’t support this kid before he goes to Athens. Baumgartner is right on target with his answer, too. You can’t willingly break the rules and not expect someone to remember that later.

With all of the bad news in college and pro sports, it’s refreshing to see a controversy over how to best honor a student-athlete.

KJ

May 14th, 2009
11:22 pm

“We have finally gotten the refs off our back for “breaking the rules in Jax”. ”

Wouldn’t speak too soon, we’ll have to see how Penn Wager$ behaves the next time he’s assigned to a UGA game. Or maybe he’ll have an unfortunate accident in the offseason that prematurely ends his career. One can only hope.

AltamahaDawg

May 14th, 2009
11:39 pm

Might as well call the CIA a bunch of liars, as to attend at this point.

shane#1

May 14th, 2009
11:44 pm

Should Richt break rule? Is UGA short of enemies in high places? Next question!

Hunk Erdown

May 15th, 2009
12:12 am

I think the deal was that CMR said he would go to the graduation if the kid made valedictorion. Since he didn’t make valedictorion, it should be a non-issue. Everyone should congratulate the kid for coming so close. In an age where most kids are struggling just to qualify academically, its pretty special to see one that can be a star on the field and in the classroom, but I don’t see why it should be such a big deal to have your future head coach attend the ceremonies. Hopefully, it is the thought that counts…

Lord of the Lizards

May 15th, 2009
12:53 am

I think Richt has already made his intentions clear and has proven his point. Nothing to be gained by going at this juncture.

AltamahaDawg

May 15th, 2009
7:20 am

Hunk Erdown, the “big deal” ? Obviously it’s all about adjustments. If we had VanGorder back, they would all be valedictorians by now.

SC Dawg

May 15th, 2009
8:06 am

A rule is a rule. And Tony Barnhart wrote why the rule exists. It’s the second or third paragraph.

http://blogs.ajc.com/barnhart-college-football/2009/05/01/whats-all-the-fuss-about-auburns-limo/

Jimmy Crack Corn

May 15th, 2009
8:26 am

Maddog

May 15th, 2009
8:36 am

….and this is still news?

Blindog

May 15th, 2009
9:41 am

Coach Richt really has made his point, no don’t go,it would be showing his players it’s okay to break the rules.They will be able to say “well you did it”

AltamahaDawg

May 15th, 2009
10:15 am

Kum Ba Yaaah, everybody now, Kum Ba Yah……

april glaspie

May 15th, 2009
10:45 am

NCAA has no clue. Break the rule. What are they going to do about it? Explain something about the point of the rule? There is no point, and I’d say these guys are a troop of idiots, except that would defame apes. Oh, wait, there may be high school football players there? Try dealing with cash money at USC, you officious morons.

DThis is a little like HD Thoreau going to jail., on principle, for refusing to pay a poll tax. When Emerson came to bail him out, he said “Henry, what are you doing in there?” Thoreau responded “What are you doing out there?”

As for the AJC, didn’t Tony Cole brush his teeth this morning, or something else just as newsworthy? What;s Reggie Ball doing these days?

JenniferGO Dawgs

May 15th, 2009
10:51 am

I personally think the rules stink and are silly! But should he go? No and yes, I am on the fence on this one cannot make up my mind because the rule is such a stupid one!

SC Dawg

May 15th, 2009
10:58 am

From Tony Barnart’s column -05-01-2009

“Bottom line: The NCAA has such a rule because if it did not exist, coaches would have to promise to attend the graduation of every recruit. And those who did attend graduation would use it as a weapon in recruiting against those who did not attend. I hate these kinds of rules but they become necessary because people twist the existing rules to gain a competitive advantage. The NCAA comes off looking like the bad guy when they are really trying to save coaches from their own excesses.”

sr citizen dawg

May 15th, 2009
11:18 am

It aint the first rule linked to the NCAA that falls under the category of STOOOPID !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

april glaspie

May 15th, 2009
11:22 am

‘coaches would have to promise to attend the graduation of every recruit”

He’s not a recruit, he’s signed sealed and delivered. And he has a spectacular record of academic achievement. You’d think the NCAA would be interested in this sort of kid. This rule is asinine. A few years back, the Dooley’s couldn’t have a barbecue for their son’s HS team because it might constitute unfair recruiting. These are self-appointed arbiters imposing idiotic rules, and doing so selectively. It’s OK for Reggie Bush to get cash but it’s not OK for a kid with a 5+ gpa to have the guy he’s going to have as a mentor the next four years hear him speak at his graduation? Look, by any rational standards, this is just not rational.

If everybody woke up tomorrow morning and the NCAA had ceased to exist, what difference would it make? There’s a kid named Jamie Ponsoldt that went to Cedar Shoals in Athens. A very smart kid and a very good athlete. Jamie got into Harvard, and the NCAA said he couldn’t play football because his HS academic career was short on “core curricula”. This was because he had been taking college courses. These Little Hitlers are self-serving, self-appointed and self-invented ignoramuses.

Georgia News - 5/15/09 | MrSEC.com

May 15th, 2009
11:22 am

[...] Georgia), but I think all of us are up for the challenge.”This AJC blogger believes that Mark Richt is in the right for abiding by the NCAA rule that will keep him away from a signee’s graduation ceremony next [...]

Atlhawkeye

May 15th, 2009
11:43 am

Yet another moment in the life of the NCAA dictators that defies logic and reason. I just hope the next generation of NCAA decision makers make a point of examining all of the prehistoric rules that exist and eliminating those that don’t make any sense.

As with most of their rules and regulations, all they is leave the door wide open to agents, boosters, & coaches look for ways to buck the system. There will always be those who look to do so, but for goodness sakes – rules are made to be modified when it makes common sense to do so.

While not a UGA fan in particular, coach made the correct decision for the benefit of the university. It’s just a shame that he had to do so.

Bobcat

May 15th, 2009
11:47 am

This rule has been on the books for a while. We may not agree with it but, we must abide by it. I agree with Blindog, If Richt willfully breaks the the rules that sets a bad precedent for his players.

dawgrific

May 15th, 2009
11:58 am

urban meyer just wrote in his book that he will “NEVER forget how urban meyer was disrespected by mark richt. he said that urban meyer thinks that this disrespect is a very big deal, and that urban meyer won’t stand for it, as any kid that urban meyer wnats, urban meyer should get, especially when urban meyer is still so angry at shane matthews”
-damn what a massive DB!

dawgrific

May 15th, 2009
11:59 am

oh, and I TOTALLY agree with CMR on not going to the ceremony, but urban meyer thinks that he should go.

tift county dawg

May 15th, 2009
12:19 pm

richt 2-6 vs. UF. He must go.

BUZZ

May 15th, 2009
12:57 pm

ENOUGH about this story. I’d much rather read articles rehashing the 2008 college football story of the YEAR (45-42 in Athens)!

BUZZ

May 15th, 2009
1:04 pm

Why not write about a school which signs 30 high school valedictorians every decade instead of 1 every CENTURY?

45-42

kerrell goolsby

May 15th, 2009
4:42 pm

I agree with you, SeniorCitizen Dawg! The NCAA (or as Brian Bosworth once called them the National Communists Against Athletes) needs to worry about gender equality. It’s a graduation, for Christindom’s Sake! It’s a non-issue that those CARPETBAGGERS don’t get!

Harold Itkin

May 16th, 2009
7:36 am

Stupid rule but Richt shouldnt add to the stupidity by violating it.