Did UGA commit NCAA violations at ‘Dawg Night’?

Georgia head coach Mark Richt and assistant Warren Belin talk to linebacker prospect Stephone Anthony (white shirt) of North Carolina "Dawg Night" on Friday. (Photo by Chip Towers)

Georgia head coach Mark Richt and assistant Warren Belin talk to linebacker prospect Stephone Anthony (white shirt) of North Carolina during "Dawg Night" on Friday. (Photo by Chip Towers)

The Georgia Bulldogs may have inadvertently committed NCAA rules violations at “Dawg Night” this past Friday and I might have had a hand in it.

If so, it may change the way Southeastern Conference teams conduct their recruiting business.

As reported here Friday, the Bulldogs landed a couple of verbal commitments at their annual “Dawg Night” prospect camp. Offensive tackle Zach DeBell of Tarpon Springs, Fla., and long snapper Nathan Theus of Jacksonville each told Georgia coaches during the couple-hours-long workout that they intend to sign with UGA on national signing day next February. I covered the event and reported the news of the commitments on the AJC Recruiting Blog, as did numerous other media outlets on various Web sites.

After the camp, coaches, players and parents mixed and mingled on Woodruff Practice Fields as media members who covered the event — there were several more besides me — wandered about and snapped pictures. As I was leaving, I spotted DeBell and Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels posing for pictures. I can’t be sure, but I think DeBell’s mother was the initial photographer.

Seeing Searels and DeBell together arm-in-arm, I stopped and pulled out the trusty Canon PowerShot I had in my pocket and snapped a pic of the two individuals. Later Friday night I posted the photo on the blog I had written about DeBell and Theus committing and thought nothing more about it.

Then, late Sunday night, thanks to a Google news alert I received via email, I found out that Josh Ward of the website MrSEC.com is reporting that my picture may have been an NCAA secondary violation for Georgia. What’s more, he suggests that my very presence there Friday night may have been a violation.

I don’t know Ward, who also hosts of the “Sports Animal” talk radio show in Knoxville and writes for the Knoxville News Sentinel, according to his Twitter.com bio. But he may be right.

According to the telephone-book-thick NCAA manual, at least two rules are at issue:

  • Bylaw 13.10.1 states, “a member institution shall not permit a media entity to be present during any recruiting contact made by an institution’s coaching staff member.”
  • Bylaw13.10.5 states, “a member institution shall not publicize (or arrange for publicity of) a prospective student-athlete’s visit to the institution’s campus. Further, a prospective student-athlete may not participate in team activities that would make the public or media aware of the prospective student-athlete’s visit to the institution.”

“It’s possible it’s a violation,” said Eric Baumgartner, UGA’s director of compliance. “All the legislation [MrSEC] references is accurate. I’ll have to call the conference and see what they have to say.”

Baumgartner then questioned me about the context of the photo. I told him just as I have you. I noticed DeBell and Searels getting their picture taken and just obliged myself to do the same.

Baumgartner said he’d call me back with his findings.

As I said, there were many other reporters on hand –  from Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247.com, ESPN.com and I don’t know who else — and I have seen online at least a couple of photos similar to the one I ran.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure how the NCAA would categorize the dozens of fans who were there snapping pictures, many of which can be viewed right now on Facebook. I’m guessing they’d probably have a problem with that as well.

In any case, if any of this is found to indeed be impermissible, then I think every team in the SEC is going to have to reconsider the way they do these things.

After Georgia’s “Dawg Night” on Friday, Auburn held on Saturday it’s annual one-day prospect camp, which was attended by hundreds of prospects and dozens of media members. And Florida has had enormous success with its heavily-covered “Friday Night Lights” camp, which recommences this Friday down in Gainesville.

Nevertheless, if Georgia has indeed run afoul of NCAA law due to “Picture Gate,” it’s not going to bring down the program. It would be considered a minor offense since it was inadvertent and trivial in nature.

“It would be a secondary violation,” Baumgartner said. “It would not affect the PSA’s (prospective student-athlete) eligibility.”

Stay tuned.

  • See more Dawg Night photos on the  AJC Recruiting Facebook page.
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • E-mail specific recruiting questions to me at AJCrecruiting@yahoo.com. I’ll answer them in the “Mailbag” each Friday.

287 comments Add your comment

CBB1

July 19th, 2010
1:32 pm

Riley

July 19th, 2010
1:35 pm

So we won’t lose our AD over it, and no policemen were put in the hospital? Yea, I don’t think Richt or anyone else should lose any sleep tonight.

Beast from the East

July 19th, 2010
1:41 pm

Secondary violation if anything. Shouldn’t amount to much and rightfully so. It’s not like UGA was trying to gain some sort of unfair advantage. No big deal.

Paul in RDU

July 19th, 2010
1:42 pm

Chip – Don’t beat yourself up on this one – it’s an honest mistake and secondary violations happen by accident all the time.

Drunkyard Dawg

July 19th, 2010
1:43 pm

can’t be a hypocrite, we gave vols fans a hard time last year when kiffin was in his office with a recruit and his parent with cameras rolling. the video (probably no longer than 7 seconds) made it on sportscenter, and then we all gave him/UT an earfull about ncaa infractions and not knowing the rules. if we broke a rule, we deserve to be held accountable, no matter how minor it may be.

Paul "ManBoobs" Johnson

July 19th, 2010
1:43 pm

Here is CUM at Florida’s ‘Friday Night Lights’ being photographed by the media with a recruit….

http://www.alligator.org/sports/football/article_d1d1afbf-ad93-59d9-bf9c-90324664ade3.html

Dave Bliss

July 19th, 2010
1:44 pm

“Chipgate”

Reality Check

July 19th, 2010
1:45 pm

No panties, no foul!

uh oh

July 19th, 2010
1:45 pm

Obviously this is no big deal. Minor secondary violation at worst, but ESPN is reporting that the NCAA and the University of Florida are investigating allegations that one of the Pouncey twins was paid $100,000 dollars between the SECCG and their bowl game.

Hunker Down

July 19th, 2010
1:46 pm

Didn’t UT publicize their big recruiting day when coaches ripped off thier shirts? Could of sworn I saw that on a video.

PDX Dawg

July 19th, 2010
1:47 pm

good grief….I’m not sure how anyone could possibly keep track of all the NCAA regulations with regards to recruiting. It reminds me of the tax code. I guess every recruit, coach, and reporter needs to be escorted by a compliance officer from here on out.

uh oh

July 19th, 2010
1:47 pm

Drunkyard- As a Vol fan I applaud your comment.

Bride of Chucky Knapp

July 19th, 2010
1:52 pm

Players and prospects must wear burkas until opening day.

The ORIGINAL Auburn Man

July 19th, 2010
1:53 pm

Well, well, well, looks like the Dawgs are a bunch of cheaters……………and dui’ers, and panty raiding ad dept with I cant coach em motivation so I get gimmicky junk to pump them up coach.

The ORIGINAL Auburn Man

July 19th, 2010
1:53 pm

If it walks like a duck, it’s a duck. Cheaters……………..

GT Alum

July 19th, 2010
1:54 pm

Drunkyard Dawg, a very lucid post given your moniker.

Funny that this is just coming up in relation to this blog, though. It’s not like this is something UGA just did out of the blue, and it sounds like the NCAA should’ve known these events are covered by the media.

flyfishingvol

July 19th, 2010
1:54 pm

This same secondary violation happened to Pat Summitt last year. She was in Texas recruiting a player (who she eventually signed) and a local newspaper took a candid picture of the two and and published the picture. Even though Summitt was unaware the photo was being taken she received a secondary.

knoxdawg

July 19th, 2010
1:55 pm

I see 13.10.1 as a direct violation. I do not see 13.10.5 as a violation. The university did not publicize nor arrange publicity for the event. There were no team activities that a prospective student athlete participated in. Anyway, guess all universities will have to ban all journalists from covering such events.

Ginger

July 19th, 2010
1:57 pm

don’t get this…if it is a problem—then why allow reporters there in the first place…..If no picture taking is allowed…then why not tell reporters no cameras..no pictures allowed…..Written rules should be given to all reporters if they are allowed in at all. If reporter does not follow rule–then reporter should be given boot…Maybe reporters should be approved by NCAA first…..Seems like NCAA just has too many rules. The good of the student comes first….but seems lot there are a lot of rules.

Bulldog59

July 19th, 2010
1:58 pm

It will be interesting to see if UF makes any changes for Friday Night Lights (i.e, no cameras allowed, or even controlling/limiting the media further.)

Gbal

July 19th, 2010
1:58 pm

So close these events to the media.

If this is the rule, we should do it moving forward. Our local paper reporters seem to only want to dig for negative articles. Ban em from all team activities and hire an in house writer to release all UGA news to the AJC. I wouldnt’ give any AJC writer the privalidge of an interview if I were UGA. All the negative spin placed on the program?

Bruce Mac

July 19th, 2010
1:59 pm

An Auburn man calling UGA cheaters, now that is funny. Keep it down home Cuzz.

dap01

July 19th, 2010
2:00 pm

I hope the NCAA does not handle our government controlled healthcare system.

Hunker Down

July 19th, 2010
2:00 pm

If this is the rule then it sounds like UGA and other team in the nation is guility.

Clint

July 19th, 2010
2:00 pm

So this is much ado about nothing. Just like Kiffin using fog machines and every other thing that happens with every other recruit in the country.

Hunker Down

July 19th, 2010
2:01 pm

that was suppose to read “every other”

Dixie

July 19th, 2010
2:04 pm

cheaters wear red panties!

wiley

July 19th, 2010
2:07 pm

Not a big deal Chip it will be fine. I wish the AJC had a contributor that was as into GT as you are to UGA…I guess its hard to find a GT person who is a journalist but that’s a separate issue.

GatorGal

July 19th, 2010
2:07 pm

Cheaters as always. From the Jan Kemp era to the incredible arrest record of today, UGA and its players are low-life cheaters.

“The Cesspool of the South” says it all.

ryan

July 19th, 2010
2:08 pm

This is nother attemp by the bias to look any bad news for UGA and frankly and i am sick and tired of AJC running these negative stories AJC lost another customer BITE ME AJC!

wiley

July 19th, 2010
2:09 pm

Gbal…you do know that Chip is a UGA lover. He only talks about bad stuff when he has too…you have to be somewhat objective as a journalist but anyone can clearly see that Chip is a UGA fan and supporter. He is just doing his job…nothing more.

Terramar37

July 19th, 2010
2:11 pm

break break

Binary Encrypt in one part: 010110011101001100101001110101101000101010101

Encrypt key: Alpha Tango

break break

Cuz

July 19th, 2010
2:11 pm

Gee Chip, you just shot Ol Yeller.

recruitnik

July 19th, 2010
2:13 pm

Hey Chip. UF committed secondary violation on this link. You going to create an article on this:

http://www.alligator.org/sports/football/article_d1d1afbf-ad93-59d9-bf9c-90324664ade3.html

How2fish

July 19th, 2010
2:14 pm

Enter your comments here

BrokeBackJacket

July 19th, 2010
2:16 pm

GatorGal…any Gators using dead girl’s credit card lately? any out in the middle of a public street firing off an AK-47? Be sure and clean your glass house…it will require lots of windex!!!

Foot Long Dawg

July 19th, 2010
2:16 pm

Ryan, add me to your list.. Chip couldn’t get a real job or a real story… I don’t subscribe to AJC…

grow up

July 19th, 2010
2:17 pm

GatorGal, notice that Hernandez went so low in the draft because it came out that he failed multiple drug tests at Florida. Also noticed that he didn’t miss a SINGLE game. And don’t get me started on the years past on how many felons Florida kept on their team. AK-47’s anyone? Or how about Gaffney stealing all the bling at halftime of the Georgia-Florida highschool game? Hypocrisy anyone? Having a picture taken by a reporter without your permission pales in comparison to covering up failed drug tests.

Gatorgal, women are to be seen, NOT heard.

How2fish

July 19th, 2010
2:18 pm

recruitnik

July 19th, 2010
2:20 pm

Hey chip you want some more violations: Go check out warchant’s recruit pictures. They are all in the stadium before games. That is a violation for each recruit.

recruitnik

July 19th, 2010
2:21 pm

Hey gatorgal, quit calling florida cheaters. Don’t be a self hating gator.

CONFEDERATE DAWG

July 19th, 2010
2:23 pm

GATORGAL YOU KNOW WHAT WE DONT DO? USE DEAD GIRLS CREDIT CARDS

DX107

July 19th, 2010
2:23 pm

GatorGal – guess Spikes the eye poker was just mis understood, he is a good boy!

Jon Hawk

July 19th, 2010
2:24 pm

No violation. This was not “recruiting contact made by a coach….” The rule envisions living room or high school announcements not this type of event. Also, did UGA publicize this? Or did the media just know it was taking place. Did UGA advertise? Call reporters? Send a press release? I don’t know the answer but those facts are important. Finally, was this a “team activity.” Probably not the type of “team activity” the rule is talking about.

schmeckdawg

July 19th, 2010
2:27 pm

Hey GAYtor Gal isn’t one of you ex QB’s at Awbarn for stealing! Suck on that one!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dawgtards ruin this state

July 19th, 2010
2:27 pm

The unethical behavior by thUGA athletics department is far worse than anything you could do.

schmeckdawg

July 19th, 2010
2:29 pm

Oh my god Chip you took a picture of a recruit at DAWG night! Off with your #$%$@!

Doesn’t the ncA$$holes have anything better to police!!!!!

AltamahaDawg

July 19th, 2010
2:30 pm

Chip, will you autograph that picture for me?

Stadawg

July 19th, 2010
2:31 pm

Gatorgal calling Georgia cheaters….I can’t quit laughing!! Maybe you should get off the Georgia Blog and check out your own teams’s blog! Wait, don’t. Keep posting here because that is hilarious!!Thanks for making my afternoon much better than my morning!! hahahahhaahhaaahaha!!!!

recruitnik

July 19th, 2010
2:32 pm

So chip you let mrsec who is a vol fan and who is angry because debell picked uga over tennessee get you to write this non story. You realize the vols and volquest have broke this rule a number of times. Heck check out ole miss recruit pictures.