Is Richt on a slippery slope when it comes to secondary violations?

Did Mark Richt forget UGA has a guy on staff whose job is to make sure the rules are followed? (Associated Press)

Did Mark Richt forget UGA has a guy on staff whose job is to make sure the rules are followed? (Associated Press)

So what did you think of Mark Richt being tagged for an NCAA rules violation in the recruiting of Isaiah Crowell?

It’s a given that the violation, considered “secondary” by UGA and unlikely to draw any further punishment from the NCAA, is pretty picayune compared with some of the stuff going on these days in college recruiting.

The vast majority of UGA fans appear to feel it was definitely worth Richt crossing the line in order to land a must-have recruit like Crowell. A lot of folks admire his gumption in pushing the envelope.

But it’s worth noting that the true “missing man” in Richt’s recruiting stunt was Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance Eric Baumgartner, who’s there to advise coaches what’s a violation and what isn’t.

The problem is that Richt didn’t bother to check whether his little skit was allowed. According to Athletic Director Greg McGarity’s letter to the NCAA about the case, “Coach Richt knew that the team could not use equipment or run a play to create a tryout activity but did not not check with the Compliance Office beforehand about the offensive alignment. … Coach Richt knew that the activity could not occur in the stadium, for the public to view, equipment to be used or for an actual play to be run and did not believe this constituted a game-day simulation.”

The SEC disagreed and ruled that Crowell donning a Georgia jersey and joining an offensive formation was indeed a “game-day simulation,” even in an indoor practice facility. A quick call to Birmingham before Crowell’s visit to Athens could have ascertained that.

This situation was different from the five secondary violations UGA reported earlier when former players Randall Godfrey and David Pollack attended Ray Drew’s signing ceremony at the recruit’s invitation. UGA had nothing to do with that but had to take the blame under the NCAA’s peculiar rules about what it takes to constitute a representative of a school’s athletic interests.

In the Crowell case, however, the wound (admitted a very minor nick to UGA’s image) was self-inflicted, a result of Richt getting sloppy while caught up in his pursuit of the Dream Team. It also was probably unnecessary if McGarity was correct when he told the NCAA that “UGA does not believe a recruiting advantage was gained as [Crowell's] mother has stated that her son knew he was going to attend UGA since he was a young child.”

A few years back when Richt had his players deliberately draw a celebration penalty against Florida, most fans applauded the gutsy motivational ploy. “Evil” Richt was hailed as a welcome facet to the coach’s generally straight-arrow image.

Is the Crowell violation a similar situation? Should that letter of admonishment in his file be accompanied by a private “attaboy” pat on the back? Or should we remember that when Lane Kiffin was crossing the line at Tennessee, some of us weren’t quite as dismissive of secondary violations by a head coach.

I guess the question is, where should we draw the line? Is it ever acceptable for the coach to break NCAA rules, even minor ones? Would we be quite so accepting if it had been Nick Saban handing an Alabama jersey to Crowell?

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

390 comments Add your comment

who cares

March 15th, 2011
10:47 am

This is some of the crap that went on with the Vols. Watch out.

Chewdawg

March 15th, 2011
10:48 am

First? Is it possible?

AlabamaDawg

March 15th, 2011
10:48 am

No big deal – no ethics violation. Go Dawgs!

NomoBobo

March 15th, 2011
10:53 am

Dude Mark, so they’ve taken away your phone privileges? Man that’s just wrong

Chewdawg

March 15th, 2011
10:55 am

Dang.

Anyways, the difference is Richt encouraged his players to get the penalty against UF. He willed their abandonment of the rules. With Crowell, Richt believed he was within the boundaries set by the NCAA. If he came forward and said he knew it was probably a secondary violation but worth the risk, I’d have a problem with it. The fact that he openly shared the scenario with the media WEEKS ago tells me he thought he was in the clear. Otherwise it would have been hushed up. The only news here is that the NCAA thinks it’s a violation. And there’s only one opinion that matters when it comes to compliance…the NCAA.

Biggdawg33

March 15th, 2011
10:55 am

Here we go with more of the stupidity of the NCAA. It is getting pathetic what the NCAA decides to go after and not go after. Before they jump on Coach Richt, go and do something about Jim Tressel. If they do something about him, then (and that is a big mabye) I will think that the NCAA is more than a worthless piece of slop.

Paul H

March 15th, 2011
10:55 am

Who cares. He did what he had to do. With the NCAA there is no telling what is and what isn’t allowed. And after the way the NCAA has dealt with things over the past 12 months, they can all shove it. I hope Richt does it again.

Jeff

March 15th, 2011
10:55 am

I got this one…. No, it’s no big deal.

Jborodawg

March 15th, 2011
10:56 am

We draw the line at major violations (from the staff). On the other hand, we also don’t want to start piling up a bunch of “secondaries”. The Drew and Crowell episodes are about enough for this season; any more and we might start to wonder.

Don’t compare these “secondaries” to Lane Kiffin; not even in the same breath.

March Madness

March 15th, 2011
10:57 am

I thought CMR’s idea was rather creative. Suck it NCAA.

SCdawg

March 15th, 2011
10:57 am

This is getting old. What can you do to entice a player to come to your school? Regardless, it appears to be nothing major and obviously handled quickly. Always a good idea to admit your wrongs as opposed to trying to sweep it under the rug ala Ohio State. It just always makes me nervous; however, to give the NCAA a reason to look around. Looking forward to a good year. Go dawgs!

devildawg

March 15th, 2011
10:58 am

Nick Saban did put an Alabama jersey on Crowell, and Clowney and Dee Hart. He put one on all the top recruits. So what? And I for one, got chill bumps when I read about how the rest of the team looked up at Richts office at Crowell and how he came down and filled the last spot in the formation. Thats straight up cool. Welcome to the SEC.

SE GA Dawg Fan

March 15th, 2011
11:01 am

This appears to be just another stupid AJC Sports blog that’s anti-UGA and Richt. I actually thought you liked UGA, but I’m proven wrong. This infraction is so minor, and especially compared to what is going on at Ohio State, TN, USC, Auburn, etc. The sad thing is UGA always gets the most punishment, but Ohio State gets a slap on the wrist, and Auburn gets nothing.

Vince

March 15th, 2011
11:01 am

Your an idiot bill! why dont you make a mountain out of a mole hill!

Matthews Dawg

March 15th, 2011
11:02 am

Bill, are you trying to stir the pot? I think so! CMR has integrity, character and honor. He made a mistake and no one is perfect. I know there will be some that will bash his faith, etc… He is a human and none of us are perfect! Give CMR a break!

SBC Pastor

March 15th, 2011
11:03 am

Is it acceptable for a Coach to willingly and knowingly violate the rules? Of course not.

However, when you have to have an Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance to make sure that all of the rules are followed, you have too many rules. (Is this Baumgartner’s only duty: making sure no one violates NCAA rules?)

ncb34

March 15th, 2011
11:05 am

i may be wrong, but kiffin used “attractive female students” to help “talk” kids into joining. i would say this is far more acceptable. rules are rules though, hopefully this is the last we’ll hear.

Tech

March 15th, 2011
11:06 am

McDawg

March 15th, 2011
11:08 am

i thought it would be a penalty the first time i heard about it-but at the time i was thinking what kind of message it sent to Ealey and King b/c we really need sthose guys on board regardless of how good Crowell might be

in the good old days the coaches did not have to take off their shirts and jump around -they had hoestesses do it and do it gladly-why does everyone want to take the fun of life

Lowcountry Bulldawg

March 15th, 2011
11:08 am

Richt has to be careful here. Yes these are secondary violations but these seem to be compounding over the past 12 months. Note the NCAA did not “Go after” us. We self reported the incident. Richt new this off season was the most important one during his tenure in Athens so he may have taken some chances that were not needed. Was it worth it? Well at some point is the integrity of the University worth landing a couple of recruits? Regardless of what you think about the NCAA and its rules, they are still inplace. Richt needs to be mindful and not find himself in the same place that Bowden did in ‘93 w/ Warrick and searching for that mythical NT. Many believe Bowden sold himself out do finally break through and Richt may be edging close to that same line.

who cares

March 15th, 2011
11:08 am

How come there isn’t a story about the four UGA players stopping to help a man from a major accident on their way to Key West? AJC loves to report only the drama.

Mtn Dawg

March 15th, 2011
11:09 am

Please. Once again, the NCAA is stead-fast in its ‘witch hunt’. Tressell got a slap on the hand for far worse offenses. Think CMR will be dealt with similarly? Probably not. It is NOT a level playing field regarding the NCAAs inconsistent application of the rules. Coaches aren’t dealt with consistently and players are not dealt with consistently, for similar infractions. They just can’t get it right. They’re a lame bunch. We’ll see how CMR comes out but I’m confident UGA will not suffer much from it.

JaxDawg05

March 15th, 2011
11:09 am

Since the NCAA doesn’t think the Cam Newton situation was too big a deal these secondary violations are nothing.

uga_b

March 15th, 2011
11:10 am

It does kind of beg the question what can you do? For instance, would be meeting Uga be simulating a game environment? What about getting coke and a hot dog from a stand? And what in the heck is it when they stand on the sidelines during games?!?!?! Guess we should just get a limo like Auburn.

Honestly, most of the NCAA rules are supposed to protect the high school kid’s ability to choose but wouldn’t it be more helpful to allow some gameday situations? It seems to me that that would be a huge factor: how I fit with the rest of the players.

YardDawg

March 15th, 2011
11:12 am

One of the reasons the big Richt supporters give when arguing for his continued employment is that “he doesn’t embarrass UGA or flirt with the rules like Kiffen or Saban.”

Well, with this and the Drew one, don’t look now but Richt is probably leading the SEC in secondary violations.

He tied Kiffin last year, by the way.

http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/7419/georgia-tennessee-tied-in-secondary-violations

Chewdawg

March 15th, 2011
11:13 am

It’s different from what went down with UT. The Vols willfully and knowingly encouraged representatives of the school to engage key recruits outside of the contact period for coaches. Because it wasn’t a coach making the contact, the violations were considered secondary. But the NCAA, in all their wisdom and, more importantly, might, felt UT was intentionally trying to circumvent the rules and gain a recruiting advantage. The fact that they encouraged the contact is the issue. Had UGA encouraged Pollack and Godfrey to attend Drew’s signing, it wouldn’t have been secondary.

I think the issue for UGA is that they gave Crowell a jersey to put on and put him in “formation” with the offense. A jersey is considered equipment by the NCAA, so technically game day equipment was used on a recruit. If they don’t give him the jersey, you don’t have a story here.

I worked in compliance for two years with a DII school and can tell you this. Your opinion, your AD’s opinion, the media’s opinion…all count for squat. If the NCAA thinks you made a violation of rules, you made a violation of rules. And they’ll keep digging until they find proof…even if it wasn’t what they started looking for. Case in point: AJ Green.

Richt has a strong history of compliance and has run a legit program (UF penalty withstanding). This should be nothing more than slap-on-the-wrist.

Matthews Dawg

March 15th, 2011
11:13 am

Lowcountry…CMR won’t sell his soul, IMO!

2012 FEAR THE END

March 15th, 2011
11:14 am

Saban did give him a jersey and their is a picture of it

Just saying

March 15th, 2011
11:15 am

Puh-lease! Cam and Auburn go scot-free while UGA gets nit picked to death.

Dawg 1

March 15th, 2011
11:16 am

No concern.

Next

McDawg

March 15th, 2011
11:17 am

we are all sinners in the hands of an angry NCAA

mgdawg

March 15th, 2011
11:17 am

I really don’t see it as a big deal, richt thought it was ok, and I don’t really mind it because it may have helped to land a five star runningback that was desperately needed. NCAA needs to pay more attention to ohio state and the major infractions going on up there and less attention about these questionable infractions.

Mtn Dawg

March 15th, 2011
11:18 am

Chewdawg – Good blog.

OldFan

March 15th, 2011
11:20 am

In the tough, cut-throat environment of major college football recruiting, it’s all a matter of knowing how far to go too far. Richt’s right at the edge, and his shadow may have fallen across. That said, we wouldn’t expect any different, so we’ll have to live with the consequences while keeping our morality in check. If Saban had signed Crowell by doing this, we’d be screaming at Richt for being such a wuss about the rules. Just hope he’s careful about the cumulative effect.

RHall

March 15th, 2011
11:21 am

Where is Eric Baumgartner on these matters? Should he not inform the Team that a violation could occur if Chris LeMay practices w/ the Team before an High School All Star Game, or if two former UGA Players speak @ the signing ceremony for Ray Drew, or if the Team lines up in formation for IC to see where his position on the Team would look like??? What is EB doing to be aware of these situations in the future?? BTW: CMR is going to the bathroom right now; is this a secondary violation?

ugaclassof2004

March 15th, 2011
11:23 am

As the saying goes ” There are no virgins in big time college recruiting”.

How much you wanna bet UGA gets punised worse than Ohio State for this.

SouthGaDawg

March 15th, 2011
11:24 am

Who cares? Why don’t you focus on UGA basketball making the tournament? How about a post about that?

Sam

March 15th, 2011
11:26 am

I doubt anyone commenting has even read the NCAA rulebook. I started to read it a few years back and quit. I think that my reading the manual might end up being a secondary violation somehow.

I recall many years ago the game simulation stuff was pretty creative. Some school (probably more than one) had their play-by-play guy record a TD call for a prospective student as the student and his parents stood in the stadium. Soon most schools were doing this which probably lessened its impact, then the NCAA comes along and bans it. Why? To some extent if everyone is doing it, then no advantage can be gained. (This is not to condone cheating like giving cash.)

I remember watching the Olympic Track and Field trials in 2008 from Eugene, OR. A HS runner who was considering Oregon competed in the 1500. She did quite well and set a HS record. As she stood next to the clock showing the record, the crowd started chanting something like “Come to Oregon”. I wondered then if that would be considered a NCAA violation.

I doubt that a school can go through a recruiting cycle without several secondary violations. It just seems impossible. What if a coach is at the mall buying shoes and a HS athlete comes up to say “hi”. Does the coach have to go back and report it?

TX DAWG

March 15th, 2011
11:27 am

There must not be much going on in the sports world if we are talking about this. Talk about making a mountain out of a mole hill…..

1eyedJack

March 15th, 2011
11:30 am

In the cut-throat world that is college football recruiting a coach has got to do what a coach has to do. Until they are all reigned in who can blame him, even if he knew it was a violation.

All In(volved)

March 15th, 2011
11:31 am

It’s not like we’re paying players $180,000.

1eyedJack

March 15th, 2011
11:33 am

RHall, only if he craps a five star RB.

Midtown Dawg

March 15th, 2011
11:34 am

I am glad that this was a violation even though it was minor because it sets a high standard for ethics. I wish we held politicians to the same level of expectations that we hold college coaches. Our elected officials are so much less smart, strategic and ethical than college coaches and as I have heard in relation to parenting and dealing with a child’s behavior “you get what you tolerate”.

j-nasty

March 15th, 2011
11:36 am

the difference between this and what the vols were doing is i don’t believe that mark richt was wearing skimpy cloths and hanging all over crowell

Bryan G.

March 15th, 2011
11:39 am

Under NCAA rules:

1. Empty man formation is a violation.
2. Father asking pay for play – a-okay.

Got it.

DawginLex

March 15th, 2011
11:40 am

Let’s compare:

1.)No home invasions involved
2.)No armed robberies
3.)No bar brawls
4.)No one ended up in ICU
5.)No felonies committed

Seems to me that Richt doesn’t care about defending the Fulmer Cup title.

That is now reserved for Auburn, the runaway winners of the 2011 Fulmer Cup.

Auburn all in, jail that is.

Secondary Violaters Deserve the Death Penalty!!!!

March 15th, 2011
11:43 am

Good article Bill.

I can honestly say if this happened to ANY school, even if Bama did this with Crowell and got him instead of us, I would shrug my shoulders and ask “why on earth is this a violation”

This is similar to the Arkansas players who wore an Arkansas jersey in the locker room last year, and had to report the exact same “gameday situation” crap.

A few months ago, during Tech’s recruitment of Vad Lee, I saw a picture of him wearing a Tech Jersey in the Jacket locker room (this was about 2 weeks before NSD, and the pic was the background of Vad’s twitter page). So before any Techies want to come out and say this is the most heinous violation possible, just think about how bad you will get it if you fail to report that one.

Pmaxspa

March 15th, 2011
11:43 am

Much ado about nothing. We got Crowell. CMR gets slapped on the wrist. Whether this got Crowell over the line or not we’ll never know. Move on.

woebegong

March 15th, 2011
11:46 am

Has anybody looked at the NCAA rule book for college football. IT is 273 pages big, and it is written probably on a sixth grade reading level. They practically tell you when it is permissable to take a leak. I would wager to say, tjhat every school in the NCAA has a violation or two, each year trying to recruit atheletes.
The NCAA is going especially hard on the SEC, due to recent allegations leveled against a particular school, involving a tidy sum of money. UGA is not alone in violating the NCAA bible in secondary violations. We are just so lucky to have the AJC, to make sure that every little one is elevated to death penalty status, so they can increase their readership, and make up for lack of real scandels (news) to report.
This same blog had an article about Ohio State’s problems just a week or so before this, and I thought this was called the “Junkyard Dawg”, and would therefore be a blog about UGA.
Surely, the AJC and it’s journalist can find more important things to write about than this. Can’t you just read the next big hot item news story to be carried by AJC concerning UGA. “UGA recruit, seen taking a whiz in Athletic facilities at UGA”. Letter of intent not signed, no institutional control by the athletic dept.”
I will be glad when the season starts so these Journalist have something real to report about.

GOOOOO DAWGSSSSSSSS

Alabama | MrSEC.com

March 15th, 2011
11:47 am

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