Ex-Georgia Tech recruit waiting on clearance from NCAA

Junior Gnonkonde, the ex-Georgia Tech football commitment, is awaiting NCAA clearance before he can enroll at North Carolina this summer.

Ex-Georgia Tech DE Junior Gnonkonde is awaiting word from the NCAA (AJC)

Ex-Georgia Tech DE Junior Gnonkonde is awaiting word from the NCAA (AJC)

“There is an issue with the NCAA, we’re going through the process with them right now, and we think everything is going to be all right,” said John White, who is the Lanier County High School football coach and Gnonkonde’s legal guardian.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound defensive end was the first commitment for Georgia Tech’s 2012 recruiting class but ended up parting ways with the Yellow Jackets. Last January, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson informed White that they could not sign Gnonkonde because his test score “was too low” – which White disputed. Gnonkonde ended up signing with North Carolina over South Carolina, Syracuse, Central Florida and Louisiana Tech, among others.

What’s the deal now? Is it the test scores? “For some reason, the NCAA flags the kids from the Ivory Coast because their school system is different,” White told the AJC.

“[Gnonkonde] has been at our high school since the ninth grade. But the NCAA doesn’t want to count the last four years of high school. They want to count [part of his GPA] from the Ivory Coast, which would be middle school for us. According to the NCAA, it’s high school for them. They want to use his first four years, rather than the four years he has been in high school in the U.S. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand it at all.”

How do things stand with North Carolina? “I’m in touch with their people every day. Junior is supposed to report this Friday. As far as I know, we’re taking him there this Friday. He’s already enrolled in school, he’s already been accepted and he’s already signed up for classes. We’re planning on having him in orientation on Saturday.”

Now it’s a waiting game with the NCAA for approval.

At worst, if the NCAA clearance takes longer, the coach expects Gnonkonde to start classes later this summer.

Gnonkonde has been enrolled at White County since his freshman year, along with two other classmates from the Ivory Coast – both Lanier County basketball players – who are also waiting on the same NCAA ruling before reporting to Columbus State and West Georgia, according to White.

White said he feels confident that the NCAA will eventually grant the waivers because there’s a precedent with other Ivory Coast players in recent years. “We’re not anticipating any problems; I just think there’s a little more paperwork to get processed.”

SINCE THE WEEKEND

AND THE RECRUITING NEWS KEEPS COMING

YOU’VE GOT MAIL

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

  • So much is happening so fast. Have you missed anything over the last few days? Catch up with our feed by CLICKING HERE
  • BOOKMARK the NEW AJC Recruiting homepage here
  • Want to see a list of the top 125 prospects state of Georgia who signed with D1 schools? It’s looong. Go here.

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

Note: Inappropriate BLOG comments and personal attacks will NOT be tolerated. We love the lively discussions but hate-filled, harassing and irresponsible comments are unacceptable.

Please Follow me on Twitter @RecruitingAJC + Please be my Facebook friend here

68 comments Add your comment

unc!

June 12th, 2012
3:43 am

at unc, they are desperate to get any good talent—they’ll pull some strings to get him in school and stay eligible somehow.

[...] Ex-Georgia Tech commitment waiting for clearance from the NCAA [...]

slydog

June 12th, 2012
4:14 am

I just want to know why does his middle school grades and classes even matter? Players come from Australia and all over Europe. Does the NCAA check their middle school grades? What about players from, say, Nigeria, does the same policy exist? Or is the Ivory Coast just a handful who they choose to pick with? SMH. The NCAA and college athletics is all about politics and money. It is just another minor league for the pros, where your slave cargo must be “stamped” for approval before proceeding to the next stage. If this kid had taken shady high school courses, I could see the concern. I just do not see it hear. Maybe they want to make sure he isn’t a terrorist or something….lol

Crimson Crush

June 12th, 2012
4:47 am

Simple answer slydog … you have a bunch of bureaucratic jackasses who aren’t accountable to anyone except a couple of other bureaucratic jackasses who inhabit their own bubble . Under those circumstances you constantly get asinine results . No different than the results we see in other realms of society where the same conditions reign . Fortunately these people always plant the seeds of their own destruction . Unfortunately they usually screw a lot of others over before they get toppled …

FL Jacket

June 12th, 2012
6:04 am

Nice anti-Government rant Crimson. Or maybe they’ve been burned by previous kids from Cote d’Ivoire…

Jacket Man

June 12th, 2012
6:54 am

Maybe Paul Johnson wasn’t such a “bad guy” for notifying Junior of his issues so soon and letting him know GA Tech couldn’t admit him (and why), and that they then helped him find another top University who said they WOULD take him in even after warning them of this potential issue. Well, North Carolina decided to roll the dice, perhaps because of all their ongoing issues with the NCAA, I’m just not sure, and, unfortunately, Junior is the one who, unfortunately, at this point, is left hanging in limbo.

Had Junior chosen another school might have been admitted without some of these same restrictions (something he, and his high school coach were advised of by Paul Johnson when they were alerted of the problem with GA Tech and told he would NOT be admitted here and offered assistance to find another school – Paul Johnson told them some some of the others would be less restrictive than others and tried to make introductions to several). Once again, however, Junior’s coach knew better…and didn’t listen, steering Junior to making an “early” decision.

NOVAJacket

June 12th, 2012
7:28 am

This story has been one of misinformation by Junior’s HS coach, John White, who has spun the story at every step of the way to make others look like the bad guys. There is much more than a clearinghouse issue here and it’s not surprising that UNC hasn’t accepted him yet. FWIW, kids don’t get accepted at major programs every year (see UGA) and have to go to a prep school or JC. Hope it works out for Junior, he’s a decent kid.

RedandBlackDAWG

June 12th, 2012
7:31 am

Has he successfully passed his SAT’s or ACT? If he has, it should be obvious that he has the necessary tools to compete successfully at college. He will most likely have to hit the books pretty hard in order to stay up, but if hi scores qualify him, he at least deserves a chance to see if he can make it. Would the NCAA have him repeat 4 years of High School all over again?
I would think, if his academics were going to be a problem, they should have been discovered while he was in high school, so if this kid doesn’t get a chance to better himself, his high school should share the blame as well.

Game Changer

June 12th, 2012
7:40 am

UGA has no minimum GPA or minimum sat/act score. 75% or more of our football players are accepted with Special Needs programs and then published as Honor Roll Students.

You cannot make this stuff up

Just Saying

June 12th, 2012
7:46 am

Jacket Man @6:54
Nice try defending GT and Fish Fry. What about the NCAA clearing him don’t you understand? It IS NOT the school, it is the NCAA Clearinghouse which hasn’t cleared him as an eligible scholarshipped athlete. GT initially alleged he didn’t have an adequate test score, the SAT or ACT test score is not the issue, it is his core transcript thus the excuse is debunked. GT backed off of him due to illegal contact by the former asst coach who had hundreds of illegal texts to prospects. Does it ever bother you GT supporters when you publicly make such outrageous allegations about the academic worthiness of a young man? You continually excuse away ineffective recruiting and, in this case, NCAA violations by tossing out the “he is academically deficient” excuse. Your athletes are no better qualified as students as compared to the general student body than any other college or university’s athletes.

GT has students enrolled from the Ivory Coast who aren’t athletes, wonder how they were admitted? Their transcripts came from that same Ivory Coast school system.

ATL Sports Fan

June 12th, 2012
7:48 am

Game changer, your wrong. I gave you the minimum scores. Do you not remember? Guess not because you never responded. Would love to see you take the ACT or SAT. Would have said again but I doubt you’ve ever taken either one.

Just Saying

June 12th, 2012
8:04 am

Nova
Misinformation? There you go putting it out. The story plainly states he has been admitted to UNC, registered for classes, yet you said UNC had not accepted him!! How can he be enrolled, signed up for classes if, as you allege, UNC hasn’t accepted him? As I recall GT had a similar situation a few years back where a signee from Cartersville was admitted by GT, enrolled in classes yet the NCAA flagged him as ineligible due to a core deficiency.

Game changer
Georgia admits as eligible signees who are certified as eligible by the NCAA. Individual schools do not determine eligibility, the NCAA handles that. As far as being special admits, that is the situation with virtually every school, including GT, UNC, even Vanderbilt. How many GT football signees have 3.75 GPAs coupled with 1500 SATs? Exceptions are made for football and basketball signees, it’s a fact. GT recruits many of the same players as Georgia, Auburn, Clemson, GT just doesn’t succeed very often.

GT Fan

June 12th, 2012
8:15 am

This is a sad story. Wish it worked out with Tech. Good luck to Junior.

Game Changer

June 12th, 2012
8:17 am

University of Georgia minimum acceptance scores

sat: 400 to 499
act: 12 to 17

As stated by the published admissions of UGA

Tech dropout

June 12th, 2012
8:19 am

This is not a GA Tech issue. I’m not sure why you people are trying to spin it into one.

Paul in NH

June 12th, 2012
8:20 am

This is a confusing post by MC. The first line says that Junior is awaiting NCAA clearance before he can enroll at UNC. Later on we have a quote from his HS coach saying that he is going to Chapel Hill on Friday and has already enrolled in school.
Junior may be able to enroll at UNC without NCAA clearance but he won’t be able to play football and he won’t be on an athletic scholarship. The only interpretation I can make is that he has filled out his paperwork but still has to have the NCAA approve everything.

Michael Carvell

June 12th, 2012
8:21 am

@Paul in NH, that is correct. Student-athletes can enroll, sign up for classes, etc. but … it is the NCAA that has the final say.

Tech dropout

June 12th, 2012
8:21 am

Just Saying – I guess the kid not being able to get into GA Tech and him not clearing the NCAA are just some strange coincidence. You are so smart but you are “just saying” right?

I hope the kid gets to go to school somewhere either through football or based on his own academic merit.

Paul in NH

June 12th, 2012
8:23 am

University of Georgia minimum acceptance scores

sat: 400 to 499
——
How can a minimum acceptance score be a range?

Contractor

June 12th, 2012
8:33 am

For those claiming the NCAA, get a life. I am sick and tired of blame being pointed in the ways of people that aren’t to blame only because of personal responsibility. It’s clear his test scores are the issue, because Tech had issues with them well before the NCAA became an “issue”. North Carolina is a tough school and has touch admissions for regular students and I’m sure a little tougher than normal athletic ones. High school coaches are always making excuses for their players just like Baccari Rambo’s about the failed drug test. The kid needs to get his scores up and then he can play some ball and go for a college education. Personally, I think it’s pathetic the low standards for athletes knocking out true academic students from those seats. I’m the biggest college football fan just like the rest, but a 400-499 SAT to get into Georgia? That’s straight pathetic.

JM

June 12th, 2012
8:38 am

Best of luck to Junior. But if Mr White is waiting for the NCAA to do the right thing, he’s put his faith in the wrong organization.

Game Changer

June 12th, 2012
8:48 am

Their are sites that provide all information: The UGA admissions office does not have a true minimum for acceptance. What is provided is the percentage of students accepted in bracketted gpa, sat, act scoring. If the admission office raised the level up one brackett we would probably lose 40% of our football team, if we raised the level up two bracketts we would probaby not have enough players to field a full team.

The UGA football program is not graduating less than 25% of the high school players signed out of high school in 6 year period from first day of school. Lets give the coaches a raise, lets give the athletic director a raise, lets give Adams a 2mil payoff when leaving. No Leadership in Athens and no ACCOUNTABILITY BY ANYONE.

George Stein

June 12th, 2012
8:48 am

This is interesting because we were all told by WnE that there was an elaborate scheme to get rid of Junior because he was recruited by Todd Spencer (which makes no sense).

uncle kirk

June 12th, 2012
8:53 am

If any one believes the 400-499 then they are a bigger idiot than game changer.

Game Changer

June 12th, 2012
8:56 am

Less than 25% graduate from UGA FOOTBALL SCHOLARSHIP OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL

Contractor, Thank you for trying to stand up for those young men that are doing the right thing by performing well in academics and athletics only to have a scholarship unavailable because the UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT and Faculty lower the standards so low that no standards exist for kids who have no intention of graduating in the first place. ACCOUNTABILITY, NOT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA

slydog

June 12th, 2012
9:03 am

I know this much: it’s funny how schools located in the “power” conferences (SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, etc.) always have a few players with a NCAA Clearinghouse issue, BBBUUUTTTT If you go to a school, like West Virginia, UCF, USF, SMU, etc., you can enroll and play in the upcoming season as a partial-qualifier and the “clearinghouse” issues are resolved much quicker. So for the few who are defending the NCAA, please explain the difference in how the policy is applied.

slydog

June 12th, 2012
9:15 am

@Game Changer

Simple: College football and basketball exist for one reason only: money, billions of it. This money is used to fund other “projects” initiated by the university when they can’t otherwise request these funds from state legislatures and the federal government. In short, it’s a voluntary special tax (tickets, merchandise, pay-per-view, etc.) It also provides them with a slush/bribe fund for higher ranking officials. So why should they care if 85 below average students take up spots as opposed to the other 10,000-50,000 students on campus who are benefiting (somewhat) from their FREE labor. Notice how most private schools don’t have D1 football and basketball programs or multi-billion dollar conference television contracts. Their endowments and gifts are substantially larger than most public colleges and universities. They could give a flip if they educate the free (amateur…lol) labor, as long as they and the other students benefit. High-achieving students (or should I more accurately say, those who put in the work) simply have more options to pursue, including not playing sports at all.

Jacket Man

June 12th, 2012
9:17 am

“Just Saying,” you obviously don’t know what you’re saying, so all you want to do is show your behind; you just did a fine job of it. If things were as “rosy” as you just indicated, why is it that not only did he have a problem getting into GA Tech but ALSO North Carolina? This WASN’T a Tech issue, this was an issue with Junior’s educational side of the equation.

Now this is not any criticism of his desire to play football, or comment that he my not excel at the next level, but it IS a commentary about his coach’s understanding of the requirements for Junior to be qualified to play at the next level and how to get him approved PRIOR to this point. PAUL Johnson and his staff tried to tell him during the recruitment cycle what was going to be necessary for admittance to GA Tech, INCLUDING getting through the NCAA Clearinghouse, and as the recruiting season progressed and it became apparent Junior wasn’t on track to get into GA Tech, based on GA Tech’s admission requirements, Junior, and his coach, were notified so he could make the appropriate adjustments, and when it was clear he couldn’t “clear the Hill,” Junior, and his coach, we’re notified he would not be admitted and he would not get an athletic scholarship to GA Tech.

At that point, Paul Johnson and the rest of his staff offered to help Junior, and his coach, find an alternate program that might consider Junior for an athletic scholarship, based on whatever their unique requirements might be, knowing each school has their own criteria for admissions for football players (exceptions, etc.). They did warn Junior, and his coach, however, that the Clearinghouse issue would still need to be addressed regardless of who he eventually signed with. At that point Paul Johnson made contact with several schools that had original recruited Junior, on his behalf, letting them know he was interested in speaking with them about a potential athletic scholarship as he was NOT committed to GA Tech, and then he bowed out, allowing Junior, and his coach, to go through the remainder of the recruiting process, like any normal recruit would do.

Junior ultimately selected North Carolina, after a whirlwind courtship, and, unfortunately, here he is, potentially left out in the cold.

THIS is what happened, no matter how anyone tries to spin it otherwise. Paul Johnson wasn’t the bad guy; in fact, he was the total opposite…Paul Johnson tried his best during the entire process to offer good council and advise to Junior all along the recruiting process and then offered to help him find a school at the end of the recruiting period, close to National Signing Day, who still had scholarships available, who would be interested in signing him, even if they would be opponents of GA Tech over the coming years.

Game Changer

June 12th, 2012
9:21 am

slydog: Reality:

Everyone calls for the NCAA to put forth a strict policy on drug testing, failed test and penalties regarding all issues to bring about balance.

But if one wants the NCAA to require strict gpa, sat / act scores, everyone gets upset and say HELL NO.

A football player who is accepted at bottom academics, smoking dope and playing football makes the grades to stay in college: YOUR KIDDING RIGHT

Paul in NH

June 12th, 2012
9:22 am

Private schools don’t have D1 football and b’ball?
Someone needs to inform ND, USC, Stanford, Vandy, Baylor, Northwestern and 4 (soon to be 5) members of the ACC

Paul in NH

June 12th, 2012
9:23 am

College football and basketball exist for one reason only: money, billions of it.

Paul in NH

June 12th, 2012
9:25 am

College football and basketball exist for one reason only: money, billions of it.
—-
Maybe a couple more, but unfortunately, this is the major reason

ATL Sports Fan

June 12th, 2012
9:29 am

Paul, guess you didn’t read his post. Slydog said most private schools do not have D-1 football and basketball programs. That is a true statement. There are a lot of private schools who do not field programs at that level.

ATL Sports Fan

June 12th, 2012
9:35 am

GameChanger, you just do not get it. I’m a former football and baseball player at UGA who did receive a scholarship and it took me 5 years to graduate. Last time I checked fans do not pile into college stadiums to see someone who landed a chemistry research grant. Fans may clap for this person, but their true reason for being there is to watch and cheer for the FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, or whatever sport their watching. Fans of research students do not fill up Bobby Dodd, Sanford Stadium, Doak Walker, Neyland, and Bryant Denny stadiums. Football players fill these stadiums.

A person SMART enough to know......

June 12th, 2012
9:53 am

Most Africans are harder workers and value education more than most Americans.

Game Changer

June 12th, 2012
10:07 am

@atlsportsfan

And what does that have to do with the fact that young men make the grades in high school and play sports also only to have the standards lowered for those who did not do what it takes to earn a scholarship? Are you saying you dont care how dumb a kid is as long as he plays good football? I hate the fact that standards are so low today. I dont care what other colleges do, just UGA.

Maybe during your 5 years of education you missed reading comprehension.

Your statement: ” Fans of research students do not fill up Bobby Dodd, Sanford Stadium, etc. ” are you kidding me, who pays for the tickets etc, other low academic players, right, this is one of the dumbest statements I have ever read. Example: In the past few years more and more UGA students tailgate before the games and never go to the games. Evaluating the student shows many reason why: No Respect for the football program and its players, change in way student tickets are handled, change in tailgate policies, more interested in academics than football. What it really boils down to is the LACK OF LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY AT UGA AND WITH FOOTBALL.

These sports are seen as entertainment and pride, but the UGA low standards on and off the field are nothing to be prideful of.

NOVAJacket

June 12th, 2012
10:13 am

Not enrolled in UNC as of yesterday. Article doesn’t clearly state that he is enrolled, exactly the opposite in the first sentence. Only White says that he is which he knows not to be true….

Dawg48

June 12th, 2012
10:46 am

Smart, how are things?

gt4ever

June 12th, 2012
10:53 am

The NCAA, a true barometer of how to run a business….. What a complete JOKE!

DawginLex

June 12th, 2012
10:57 am

Another worthless steaming pile of cow crapola from game changer, the resident blog village idiot.

Everyone knows that we had big issues regarding academics in the 70’s and 80’s and even into the 90’s with our student athletes.

There has been remarkable improvement in test scores and graduation rates under Coach Richt.

To say otherwise is a lie

There is always going to be a gap between the test scores for the general student population and the athletes at any SEC school, including Vanderbilt.

To say otherwise is a lie

Game changer is a big blowhard LIAR who bashes Richt without any facts to support his crap

DawginLex

June 12th, 2012
11:04 am

http://www.georgiadogs.com/genrel/052411aad.html

*******************

no leadership or accountability huh?

WRONG

Pretty simple, really.

June 12th, 2012
11:08 am

Guys, its pretty simple. This kid is a non qualifier that will end up at Hargrave and maybe find his way to Central Florida in a year or two. Its not the end of the world and we’ve seen this 100 times, regardless of what his HS coach and guardian says………

specialrules

June 12th, 2012
11:25 am

at unc, they can stick him in some remedial, mickey mouse courses with special tutors and handlers to stay eligible somehow. he couldn’t even get close to getting into uga.

Promethius

June 12th, 2012
11:38 am

My sister is a jr at UGa, says her roommate is always writing a paper of some kind for her fb player boy friend. Is that cheating? Is that less offensive than what went on with McAdoo and former UNC tutor, who helped him with citing references in a paper?

ScatBack

June 12th, 2012
11:44 am

Prometheus, I believe that is quite common. UGa and even Tech are simply lucky that this kind of thing has not come back to bite them. A lot of hypocrisy demonstrated in blogs. Neither of these three schools would knowingly allow this to happen. UNC just got a thorough colonoscopy. They probably have the cleanest program at this point, given the fact that they are conducting a serious investigation into their Black Studies Program. Only makes sense to sensible people.

A person SMART enough to know......

June 12th, 2012
11:46 am

48 mom is OK but not great. She is home.

Game Changer

June 12th, 2012
11:51 am

@dawginlex

You are the closes person to Chip Towers on the sports blogs, always using UGA sports information articles released as a basis supposedly for fact:

So tell me dawginlex since you jump in with both feet: How many of the 2006 to 2009 football scholarship signees out of high school are graduated and or still in school under football scholarship pursuing a degree? How many are not in school any longer and have no way to gain a degree in 6 years?

Game Changer

June 12th, 2012
11:57 am

Let me help you with the total signed football scholarships 2006 to 2009: 95

Paul in NH

June 12th, 2012
12:26 pm

UNC has bigger academic problems than a tutor helping some kids with term papers. How about a completely bogus class?

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/06/08/3302962/unc-football-players-flocked-to.html

slydog

June 12th, 2012
12:47 pm

@Paul in NH

Here is my exact quote, which can be referenced up above:
” Notice how most private schools don’t have D1 football and basketball programs or multi-billion dollar conference television contracts. ”

Did you notice the keyword is “most.” I don’t lack common sense and I KNOW how to form a coherent argument. Prove me wrong otherwise. If you want to disagree or criticize, get your facts straight about what someone says or comments on. Peace!!!