NCAA criticizes AJC blog on Richt/Burnette graduation issue, questions journalists’ ‘damning commentary’

David Pickle (right), managing director of publishing at the NCAA ( For Coaches)

David Pickle (right), managing director of publishing at the NCAA ( For Coaches)

The NCAA formally responded to AJC staff writer Michael Carvell’s April 17 online column, “UGA’s Mark Richt should break the rules in the name of academics,” in its Double-A Zone blog Tuesday.

David Pickle, the NCAA’s managing director of publishing, wrote on April 21 that “Atlanta Journal writer Michael Carvell recently encouraged Georgia football coach Mark Richt to stage an act of civil disobedience to call attention to what Carvell believed to be wrong-headed NCAA legislation,” going on to state that Carvell’s public call to action in the case of, as Pickle put it, “Georgia recruit Chris Burnette, one of the nation’s top-rated offensive lineman [sic] – and also valedictorian at Troup (Georgia) High School [sic]” didn’t take into account the NCAA’s flexibility provisions regarding such matters and that, again quoting Pickle, “[Georgia] did not ask for a waiver before [April 17], when Carvell’s blog post appeared.” Burnette has not been named Troup High’s class valedictorian as of this writing.

In his piece, Pickle also questions why the topic was publicly broached.

“My question is why matters like this generate such damning commentary from journalists who should know better.”

“Perhaps that is the signal that was buzzing in the back of Carvell’s mind when he created an escape hatch in his own blog post,” Pickle writes. “After calling the NCAA ‘big and bad’ in paragraph No. 3, he came back five paragraphs later to note that a waiver request probably would be granted. Unfortunately, the damage was done with the presumption of NCAA intransigence.

“Several of the comments that followed impugned the Association for an action it had not taken.”

RELATED: It’s official: UGA coach Mark Richt requesting NCAA waiver to attend graduation [Click here]

76 comments Add your comment

Dawg MD '77

April 23rd, 2009
12:06 pm

Nothing would make me prouder as a UGA graduate than to see Coach Richt attend Burnette’s graduation. The NCAA’s David Pickle pretty much encouraged him to do so in his blog, saying Coach Richt’s waiver request would be approved. It would be a tremendous amount of goodwill publicity for Coach Richt, UGA, the SEC, college football and even the undeserving NCAA. No losers here. Am I wrong?


April 23rd, 2009
12:09 pm

The NCAA is full of it as is Pickle. Hello NCAA, CMR did indeed send in a waiver and you have not given an approval or failure. How about shut your trap PIckle and approve it and show us the NCAA isn’t the organization we all know it to be.


April 23rd, 2009
12:13 pm

Dawg MD ‘77, I’m going to sit in agreement with ya on THIS one. I believe, you are correct. ;0)


April 23rd, 2009
12:30 pm

CMR should go. This would be the first and last time I’d ever stand up and cheer for Georgia. This makes the SEC look good. I like it, I like it. Pickle is a prude.


April 23rd, 2009
12:31 pm

Generally an act of civil disobedience seeks to disobey the law or command of a government entity. That Pickle would use such language speaks volumes of the arrogance of the NCAA. Far from “damning commentary,” I believe Carvell made a legitimate point. Stuck with responding to someone they have no authority deal with formally, all Pickle can do is bristle and bluster. Good job Carvell! More importantly, good job Chris Burnette!!


April 23rd, 2009
12:50 pm

Mr. Carvell, just like they wrote in your original article, you nailed this one. I agree 100 percent with the rest of you on here. Richt must go, and the NCAA should reimburse Georgia for travel expenses. Richt will be doing the “holier than thou” NCAA a huge favor. Did anyone read Pickle’s full article? He speaks with the same condescending tone that has made the NCAA legendary.


April 23rd, 2009
12:51 pm

LOL @ “civil disobedience.” Please get over yourself NCAA.


April 23rd, 2009
1:01 pm

Civil Disobediance? Perhaps the NCAA is too full of itself.
The young guy is already committed to UGA, it’s a graduation.
How dare the AJC actually question anything. Get a life NCAA. My opinion on the management of the NCAA is similar to my opinions of Congress and the management of GM.


April 23rd, 2009
1:06 pm

The more you feed the beast (NCAA), the more the beast demands to be fed.


April 23rd, 2009
1:13 pm

What gets my gander up is you hear nothing about the cheating and payoffs USC did with Bush and more then likely are still doing to get 5 star recruits. Mr Pickle what’s up with the Bush investigation!!!!


April 23rd, 2009
1:14 pm

If Burnette is validictorian, Mark Richt will be there. This kid deserves his 15 minutes for doing things the right way, screw bylaw


April 23rd, 2009
1:26 pm

Darryl Richard was valedictorian of a larger HS in a state with better academics. He was also a finalist for the same national student-athlete award as Burnette. I don’t think anyone was urging anyone from tech to go to his graduation. Another difference between the programs.

Maybe Burnette will get to do at UGA another thing Richard did at Tech…..and something many UGA folks would love……

Serve on the search committee for a new president. ;-)

Tails from The Swamp

April 23rd, 2009
1:29 pm

Gee, when you see those NCAA advertisements with an emphasis on academics, you would think this is something they would ENCOURAGE. I guess they don’t want all these coaches suddenly showing up for kids graduations all over the country. Perhaps they view it as an intrusion and an unfair recruiting advantage. Seems like something could be worked out here because it would be nice for a little more actual recognition on the academic side, not just lip service or in a slick commercial.

AJC messing up big time!

April 23rd, 2009
1:30 pm

Carvell, we were shocked to hear that the AJC’s “big and bad” bosses removed you from the recruiting beat.. I thought Maxie would do high schools and you would handle recruiting like you did sol well. What the heck happened? What are the email addresses for the editors? Please post them. That is messed up and i want to voice my displeasure.

The Ole Ball Coach

April 23rd, 2009
1:31 pm

The NCAA is worried about a coach attending a players graduation as a Valedictorian and I note a player who is already committed and signed a LOI. Don’t make sense……. Where is the NCAA on the OSU Clarrett
and the Usc Bush cases……… in 50 years they will rule the cases are just too old…

GT '92

April 23rd, 2009
1:36 pm

All rivalry talk aside. I agree with the Bulldogs on this one. Good job Mr. Burnette. I wish you well in your academic and football endeavors, with the exception of a certain game in November.


April 23rd, 2009
1:45 pm

Suggested response from the NCAA (in place of the one they made):

“UGA has requested a waiver so that Coach Richt might attend the graduation of UGA signee Chris Burnette and the waiver is in process. We see no reason why it will not be granted. Mr. Carvell’s on-line column was untimely and, unfortunately, misleading. We applaud Coach Mark Richt for his interest in the academic life of college student-athletes.”

By hedging, saying that UGA hadn’t requested a waiver AT THE TIME that Carvell wrote his post, and not mentioning that a waiver had, in fact, been requested, the NCAA misled everyone, apparently intentionally. Why not stay about the fray and focus on the important point of all this — that a coach wants to attend an athlete’s graduation to applaud his/her academic success. But no. When given the chance, they have to get down in the mud and play schoolyard you suck… no you suck…. your mama’s ugly…. and all that foolishness.

Maybe Carvell started it [he could have just suggested UGA ask for a waiver of the rule, but that wouldn't have generated nearly as much interest in his column -- hmmmmm -- interesting]. But, the right answer would have focused on UGA, academics, Coach Richt and, most important, the achievements of Chris Burnette.


April 23rd, 2009
1:47 pm

Duh… should read “ABOVE the fray” — but you get the point.


April 23rd, 2009
1:50 pm

I bet he has Pickle Tiles in his bathroom.


April 23rd, 2009
1:58 pm

The NCAA defending itself? That’s as good as RAMBLEON trying to convince us he is not a low life and that he never takes pot shots at 18 and 19 year old kids just because they decided to not attend Tech.

Paperboy in Newnan,Ga.

April 23rd, 2009
2:07 pm

It’s official. The AJC is dead as a newspaper. When editors no longer defend their writers opinions on an opinion-based piece such as Carvell’s then it is time to close shop. Michael has done everything asked of him. God knows this newspaper devotes more ink to college recruiting than it does to every high school sport combined … which itself is wrong, but a topic for another time. I hope upper management is happy, because you’ve destroyed your newspaper.


April 23rd, 2009
2:10 pm

Rivalry aside, this Tech fan finds it ridiculous that Coach Richt even has to be granted permission to go to this young man’s graduation. It is wonderful that he is so interested in his future players’ academic careers as well. Given all the rest of the hoodlums coaching the SEC (Kiffin, Urban, Les), I think Richt is the classiest of the bunch. He ought to go regardless of what the “big, bad” NCAA tells him.


April 23rd, 2009
2:12 pm

So the AJC and the NCAA are both misleading?…..shocking


April 23rd, 2009
2:13 pm

Yeah, Carvell was outstanding on the recruiting front. Made even all the Georgia stuff interesting to read.

Spud Webb

April 23rd, 2009
2:24 pm

Love it, I wonder if the NCAA charged some kind of 15 dollar fee for that waiver request???? I wouldn’t be surprised!!! Pickle and the NCAA are a joke, the NCAA=MONEY for nothing.


April 23rd, 2009
2:27 pm

At last something to read and write about. Bring back Carvell! It’s been pretty boring on here lately without some football to read about.Almost did not even get on here today. And when are you going to update the recruiting list? It is still filled with last years 2009 recruits, with a few 2010 sprinkled in. Spring practices are ready to start and I would like to see some new names and news! Thank you in advance…

GA Tech Insider

April 23rd, 2009
2:28 pm

I thought these were “student athletes”. If that’s the case, I’m not quite sure why the NCAA would have a problem with a Coach going to support a “student” who has achieved the highest honor possible after all commitments have been completed between Universities.

Heck, even if recruiting was still going on, I would say good for the young man, and I would hope that all of the Head Coaches would be there cheering the young man on as a shining example of that the NCAA should be praying that all of it’s incoming student athletes would be just like Chris; a great kid who excels in the classroom and in his chosen field of athletics.

urban saben

April 23rd, 2009
2:48 pm

i know the reason why because
he’s Marcht Richt…hahahaha
i can because i’m Urban..urban saben


April 23rd, 2009
3:00 pm

Having trouble with spelling your name there Urban?


April 23rd, 2009
3:01 pm

I don’t get it. If Richt wants to attend the graduation the he has to get a waiver. Makes sense to me. All the NCAA is asking for is appropriate paperwork to ensure of no undue recruiting advantage–the players signing status has no baring here. The coaches know the rules. They know the need a waiver. They know they need to apply for it in time to attend the event.

If Richt does this, he can go.

What’s the big deal?

The NCAA does some things wrong from time to time but I believe they truly have Student Athletes best interests at heart. Much ado about nothing here. Muckraking at its best.


April 23rd, 2009
3:18 pm

NCAA didnt indicate worry over coach attending grad. they
criticised carvell for attacking ncaa BEFORE richt requested waiver
or kid named valdictorian. good for ajc removing carville from
recruiting. (ncaa often needs criticism but wait til they do


April 23rd, 2009
3:27 pm

GREAT POINT BY yankeedawg…NCAA should stay out of academic matters such as this and focus on the USC payment plan that all of their athletes seem to be on…HELLO…anybody there????


April 23rd, 2009
4:17 pm

I am glad the NCAA came down on the AJC.

AJC sports writers suck.

The AJC sucks.

I will be glad when that rag goes broke and they close it down.

Shawn McIntosh, AJC Public Editor

April 23rd, 2009
4:48 pm

One of the commenters asked about possible changes in our lineup of reporters covering high school sports and recruiting news.

In response to economic pressures, the newspaper has had to make some staff cuts. We had to eliminate the jobs of several part-timers covering prep sports and one full-timer accepted a buyout.

The new high school/recruiting lineup teams Michael Carvell and Darryl Maxie. Both have extensive experience covering high school sports and recruiting and they will work together to bring readers the best coverage we can provide. Long-time high schools editor Tim Ellerbee has a new role and will be developing plans to supplement the coverage for Friday night football and other busy times.

Darryl’s primary focus will be an online blog, where he will use his multimedia skills and entertaining approach to reach our digital audience. Michael’s primary focus will be developing exclusive news and enterprise reporting for our print edition.

We expect their work to cross platforms and serve both our print and digital readers with the premier high schools and recruiting coverage they have come to expect.

Shawn McIntosh
Public editor

civil disobedience?

April 23rd, 2009
4:52 pm

Civil disobedience? Are the NCAA by-laws now on the same level as the laws of the land? Yet another reason that the NCAA should really be replaced.


April 23rd, 2009
5:05 pm

Coach Richt (AND ALL other coaches (irrespective of their sports)) SHOULD BE ABLE to attend the graduation ceremony for ANY prospective college athlete who has already signed a National Letter of Intent with that institution WITHOUT the Coach having to apply to the almighty (NCAA) for a waiver from the STUPID rule which prohibits the Coach from otherwise being free to attend the graduation ceremonies.


April 23rd, 2009
5:15 pm

Mr. Carvell,
Keep up the good work. The NCAA should be ashamed for criticizing your efforts. I love UGA, but last off season, not one word was heard from them, although Dawg after Dawg made headlines for the wrong reasons. I agree with your article, stating that CMR should acknowlege the tremendous academic accomplishments of this young man. Richt gave his word and he should honor it. If the NCAA truly cares about the education of student athletes, why is an issue such as this, a thorn in their side?


April 23rd, 2009
6:07 pm

What more evidence do you need for abolishing the NCAA…look at the money saved.

[...] RELATED: NCAA criticizes AJC blog on Richt/Burnette graduation issue, questions journalists’ ‘damning com… [...]

Tokyo jacket

April 23rd, 2009
9:09 pm

The NCAA was impugned for 100s of actions it has already taken, just not on this issue. The court of public opinion heavily relies on circumstantial evidence and there is strong circumstantial evidences that the NCAA would have it’s head up it’s donkey on this one too.

I’m saying as a Tech fan that I hope the kid gets his Valedictorian, I hope Richt attends graduation, I hope there is a violation charged, and I hope there is a public outcry. I will personally write my congressman/senator if an individual from an academic institution gets penalized for supporting the VERY impressive achievements of a fine student athlete.

Finally, if any other Tech people on here rag on this kid or this school in this instance, you’re idiots and I don’t associate myself with you. I have good old fashioned hate for UGA the Saturday after November, but I hate the NCAA rules and lack of rules a lot more often.


April 23rd, 2009
10:51 pm

It always amazes me to watch the NCAA do stupid things, but consistently get money from the backs of hard working young men.NCAA, one statement for you: Grow the F@#k up.

Joe Schmoe

April 23rd, 2009
10:53 pm

Haha, Pickle!!! How ya doin Mr. Pickle! So immature.


April 24th, 2009
12:11 am

Civil Disobedience??? Are you kidding me???

Crimson Crush

April 24th, 2009
2:01 am

Tokyo Jacket that was sort of the gist of my post on Carvell’s original article . I am not in love with the Bulldogs , Mark Richt OR the AJC . In this case though Carvell was correct and I would have to take sides with the Dawgs on this one .

The indignant response of the NCAA to the original article about the author encouraging “civil disobedience” was even MORE over the top . Are you kidding me ???? Like they are the fiat kings and their word is the unquestionable ,unassailable LAW of the land ??? Who the **** do these clowns think they are besides overpaid thieves and pencil pushers ?

If they want to get “indignant” about something how about they get off their asses and do a REAL investigation of why Reggie Bush was allowed to have his personal sports agent buy his family a home , sit in the locker room and attend practices so often he was like an assistant coach …


April 24th, 2009
8:29 am

Yet another reason to absolutely HATE, despise, and root against the NCAA.

The only thing more disgusting than the NCAA is the fact this Pickle-idiot felt the need to respond to Carvell’s article.

I agree so often that Congress should stay away from involving themselves with sports but not in the case of the NCAA.


April 24th, 2009
8:29 am

The AJC took my comments off of the the blog. LOLOL. They hate when you tell the truth about something. I will repeat what I said then. The NCAA should piss off because they should be worrying about organizing a playoff system and getting rid of that stupid BCS system instead of commenting on a Journalist who Mark Richt is not going to listen too anyway. Mark Richt is his own man and will do the right thing by asking for a waiver 1st. Which he did on yesterday. The NCAA is a joke to me sometimes.


April 24th, 2009
8:40 am

Oh, this is rich for a school where the final exam for basketball players asked such difficult questions as “How many points are awarded for a 3-point shot?” Was Tony Cole an honors graduate from his high school? Was UGAY not facing the NCAA death penalty if they got caught cheating one more time on academic matters?


April 24th, 2009
8:57 am

Now that Mr. Carvell and Mr. Pickle have that off their chests, let’s see if the NCAA will do, what is clearly, the right thing.

tell the truth

April 24th, 2009
9:19 am

if richt were not recuiting him could you even drag him to his graduation. How many graduations does he actually attend when there is no close relationship. Just tell the truth as to why he is really going.


April 24th, 2009
9:24 am

I love the [sic] in the post. A very subtle way to be an anus to someone.