Overzealous “UGA fan” calls recruit about his commitment status with Bulldogs

A person claiming to be a UGA fan recently called one of the team’s top football recruits to clarify the status of his commitment to the Bulldogs.

The ill-advised contact between the “fan” and the prospect, and the story behind it, instantly went viral on Twitter, and ignited heated discussions on a UGA team website and Rivals.com’s national message boards.  It also created some speculation that UGA may have to report an NCAA secondary violation — even though UGA appeared to have nothing to do with the phone call, and the unidentified person claiming to be a UGA fan may be a fan of another school.

An NCAA spokesperson told the AJC on Monday that it did not have enough information to “speculate about the situation” and how it applied to the rulebook, and recommended contacting UGA. Jim Booz, who works in compliance at UGA, said Monday he was aware of the situation and said that no NCAA secondary violation had occurred. “Based on the information at this time, there’s not enough information to conclude that there’s a rules violation.”

If anything, it’s a wild and wacky story about how passionate and overzealous some college football fans are about recruiting, and how far they will go to encourage top recruits to go to their favorite school – even if it may threaten to get the college in trouble.

For the record, there’s some gray area between defining the difference between a “booster” and “fan” in NCAA Bylaw 13.02.14,  based on the interpretation of this qualifying clause — [Persons that]  ”have been involved otherwise in promoting the institution’s athletics program.”  That’s about as gray as it gets. But it’s clearly against NCAA rules for boosters or fans to lobby their college to recruits on Facebook and Twitter, even though it happens dozens a time per day across the country. That’s an NCAA secondary violation that may never again be enforced, just because of the sheer magnitude and rapid growth of Social Media.

However, it’s more personal contact like a random phone call to a recruit or in-person interaction that really raises eyebrows.

The UGA soap opera kicked off last week after a California newspaper reported that College of the Sequoias defensive back Steven Nelson said in an interview that he had committed to Texas Tech – which Nelson later denied. Nelson has been committed to UGA since last February.

“There’s no truth to that, and I was thinking about pressing charges because that’s false information,” Nelson said.

Last Thursday, Nelson was contacted by a person who wanted to know if he had indeed switched his commitment from UGA to Texas Tech. They talked for about 5-10 minutes.

“I get phone calls almost every day from college recruiters and reporters,” Nelson said. “He called me up, and I forgot what his name was. The way he was talking, I thought he was a reporter, so I stayed on the phone. He was just trying to convince me to stay with Georgia, told me how good of a player I was, and wished me a good year.”

“I didn’t think nothing of it until somebody called me, an ESPN guy [DawgNation's Radi Nabulsi], who told me the guy put it on Twitter that he talked to me on the phone.”

There was also a Rivals subscriber who claimed the same thing on Georgia’s team website, UGASports.com, and later got banned for it.

“Here’s all I know,” said Steve Patterson, publisher of UGASports.com. “One of my guys contacted me and said there was somebody on DawgVent saying they had been calling prospects of UGA. As we all know, that’s against NCAA bylaws, which are very encompassing when it comes to things stuff like that …

“The site staff removed the post. Then after that, the guy went on and on about how could do that if he wanted, and [to heck with] the NCAA. Then the guy sent some harassing emails to our staff. They contacted me and asked what to do, and I said blacklist him and have him contact me. That’s the last we all heard of it until he made some other posts around the Internet.

“He threatened to say he was going to call prospects, and then call Coach Richt and say we instructed him to do this, which is absurd. Over the years, we’ve gone out of the way to be very educated as a staff at UGASports on the NCAA rules, and we’re written extensively on the various bylaw changes. We’ve actually withheld doing things the way some other people in business, you could say, operate when it comes to dealing with coaches because of that, because we’re a dot-com, and we’re held to a little bit of suspicion in the first place. So we’ve always kept a very even keel when it comes to NCAA rules.”

“We will not stand by and let people knowingly break rules, whether it’s our rules or the NCAA’s rules. If some guy got on the DawgVent and said, ‘Hey, I just drank a 12-pack of beer and I’m driving home as fast as I can’ … I’m not saying we’d call the cops, but we’d definitely remove that post and say, ‘Dude, if you’re going to living outside of the law like that, our board is not a forum for you to brag about it.’”

UGASports.com ended up looking like the “good guys” in this situation. They have no obligation to help UGA monitor possible violations, inform its readers of the NCAA rules, or ban a paying customer for any type of post. Patterson sent an email to Claude Felton, UGA’s sports information director, to make him aware of the situation. “That was end of it until today. I guess he’s out there running his mouth or running his fingers somewhere on the Internet, which goes to show what a loose cannon this guy must be in the first place.”

This recruiting drama really picked up steam when a poster with the screen name of “BoneafideDawg” claimed on Rivals.com’s national messages boards he was “banned on the home board for saying I called a recruit.” It was unclear if this was the same person that called Nelson or posted on UGASports.

There were at least six pages of posts from fans from several SEC schools before the thread was deleted. “BoneafideDawg” made a futile attempt to defend the actions. Here’s a couple of his comments:

Some loser said I violated NCAA rules and I told him I didn’t since I wasn’t representing any program. I think informing other posters of this is what got be banned as Rivals want us to think they have some kind of special domain. Anyway … [expletive] them. I’m done paying money to kiss [expletive].

Why are you so conditioned to think you have to have a press pass to talk to an American citizen? These sites have people thinking they have some kind of special clearance. They don’t

Back to UGA: According to Booz, “There are five things that make someone become a booster, and one of them is if a fan is assisting in the recruiting of a prospect on Social Media, or over the telephone, or in person. If they solicit the enrollment of a prospect, then that’s a violation of NCAA rules.”

When the Bulldogs send out season tickets each year, there’s also a letter from UGA athletics director Greg McGarity which addresses contact between boosters and prospective student-athlete.

“Basically it says ‘Please leave all the recruiting up to our coaches,’” Booz said.

THIS JUST IN …

BECAUSE WE MISS THE OLYMPICS

MORE RECRUITING

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

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

276 comments Add your comment

Spanky

August 21st, 2012
12:43 pm

Media- the death of America! This is what happens when too many people think they have something to say! Trash-talking devolves to complete immaturity and lack of decency! Proof of this can be seen in most posts on here. Folks, try finding something productive to do, before this reaches “my daddy can beat up your daddy” status!!

Dagny

August 21st, 2012
12:44 pm

I went to a lot of football games in high school and watched. I never went to a college or college game but I know all about the UGA football program!

Factor

August 21st, 2012
12:48 pm

When will Barn be on probation? FBI interviewing in Memphis about Auburn signees. When will Bama and LSU release first offense drug tests?

Factor

August 21st, 2012
12:50 pm

@Flying Tigers

So if Crowell goes to Auburn or Bama he is still playing. Do kids that cross the state line suddenly change, or does the local law just change?

philSC

August 21st, 2012
12:52 pm

UGA fans act like your program has some history or something to it but you are no florida, lsu, or bama…….u won your only title before they wore facemasks you losers…=D

philSC

August 21st, 2012
12:54 pm

Cant believe the DWAGS are so excited about another 10-2 year… yawn. What do yall get out of that?so boring

SugeKnightDawg

August 21st, 2012
12:55 pm

In the rap game philSC would be known as the hype man. All talk, no real performance.

philSC

August 21st, 2012
12:56 pm

history history history… yall dont even have history. And we all know that the GAMCLUCKS have already surpassed your program….yawn

philSC

August 21st, 2012
12:57 pm

history?????? yall cant beat SOUTH CAROLINA =D

See Spot Run

August 21st, 2012
12:57 pm

I’m a real UGA AJC fan, that means I mop floors at the local wallymart and wear Q-trip Dawg hats and own more than several UGA skoal can lid covers. GO Dwags!

Run Lindsey Run!

1980 National Champs!

Cool black unikforms!

Black helmets, Silver helmets with tron stripe!

Me and my bro’s down at the pool hall luv us some UGA Foosball and pigs feet for Breakfast!

Red Georgia dirt bare feet and Herschel Walker! Yeah Baby!

Billy beer for everybody!

philSC

August 21st, 2012
12:58 pm

@sugeknightDWAG

No performance–that sounds like UGAG football on the big stage……never win the big one

philSC

August 21st, 2012
1:00 pm

@seespotrun

run up yonder and get us some possum for tonight–billy bob’s coming into town for the Buffalo game..yeee–hawww

1 4 GT

August 21st, 2012
1:00 pm

Is WnE on the prowl???? Just asking!!

Whiskey Breath

August 21st, 2012
1:06 pm

Some how you mutts will spin this negative situation to make you come out smart and disciplined.
Cut the crap mutts, you have the same standards as the rest of us, you are just underacheivers.
I will give you credit though, you can come up with better excuses and spin than anyone.
Richt might be the best.

A person SMART enough to know.....

August 21st, 2012
1:06 pm

Factor….you have no PROOF that what you said is true.

Spanky

August 21st, 2012
1:06 pm

Phil, since you are yawning so much, go to bed!!

PM

August 21st, 2012
1:10 pm

So let me get this straight: If I want to support my team and ensure their opponents are crippled, what I, average public person, should do is call players on the opposing teams and harass them. One, it’s fun. Two, it might cause THEM all sorts of NCAA grief, and Three, nobody can stop me.

Dawglasville

August 21st, 2012
1:12 pm

philSC – Are you 12? No team, NO TEAM in the SEC has won more bowl games than UGA. To show you how little you know about the SEC historically there is Bama, then UT, and then UGA, UF, LSU, Auburn in the mix depending on what you consider important. I believe we are #3 with @13 SEC titles, something USC knows nothing about. You have won 5 bowl games in the entire history of your stupid school. If you didn’t pack in 80 plus on game days you wouldn’t even be considered a football school. We have won 2 national titles. Go ahead, don’t respond, drop off for a couple of pages and then come back again with the same stupid blog. That is what you did last time.

GA Sandlapper

August 21st, 2012
1:13 pm

Slow news day?

philSC

August 21st, 2012
1:27 pm

gameclucks are gonna beat them hairy dawgs up in October!!! yeeee—-hawwww

philSC

August 21st, 2012
1:29 pm

@dawglasville

you are SPURRIER’S blow up doll… =D

Dawglasville

August 21st, 2012
1:30 pm

philSC – Like I said, 12.

philSC

August 21st, 2012
1:32 pm

you know who talks abt the past dont you—–ppl afraid of the future. Sticks and Stone will break my bones but words will never hurt me..and no im not 12–i’m 14 you stupid fool =D

philSC

August 21st, 2012
1:34 pm

do u like gettin bullied by a 14 yr old kid doooglasville??? thats what happens when you cant beat the gameclucks u dum dum =D

r

August 21st, 2012
1:45 pm

What a loser that dude is. Calling a high school student? What is a grown man doing calling a high school student for? Seems a little creepy to me.

AU in ATL

August 21st, 2012
1:46 pm

@ Factor
I love it… since 2010, 2 days don’t go back without a reference on the AJC blogs to AU. It’s coming, probation, death penalty, FBI, Newton, secret sources, NCAA, casino gate…its coming blah blah and blah. Yeah, its coming about as fast as the UGA NC.

Roll Turd Roll

August 21st, 2012
1:47 pm

Why is Harvey Updike messing with UGA recruits???

Shame on You

August 21st, 2012
1:51 pm

Why is this front page news? AJC is a joke….This is officially the last time I visit this site!

Dawglasville

August 21st, 2012
1:55 pm

At least 14 makes sense. I am glad you are not a crack head or just plain simple. Hopefully you will grow out this. I won’t be going back and forth with you anymore. Good luck with high school and with your Gamecocks this season.

philSC

August 21st, 2012
1:58 pm

AU in ATL

so let me get this straight—its prob not coming!!!! cause u said it would come when UGA wins a NATL TITLE but hey havent done that in over 30 years so–I/m gonna assume its not coming

philSC

August 21st, 2012
2:00 pm

@dooglasville

thanks! goodluck to your dawgs too.. I really dont hate them–its just they are really the only team a gamecluck fan can bully =D…..ok time to go make my bed.

sean jones

August 21st, 2012
2:11 pm

GT must fire Al GROH!!!!! That guy is bad

Alabammy

August 21st, 2012
2:14 pm

Dawglasville…are you high today? UGA has won more bowl games than any other team in the SEC? Um…did you forget that Bama has 11 more bowl wins than UGA? Slip your mind? Not just the SEC…Bama has more bowl wins than any team in the NCAA.

Alabammy

August 21st, 2012
2:15 pm

Sorry…not 11 more…just 6 more.

Not buying it

August 21st, 2012
2:24 pm

Absolute stupidity on the part of the NCAA if they can’t differentiate. I’m going to start scouring the White Pages for recruits at schools I don’t like and calling them pretending to be an Alumni and Fan. Maybe I can add a few more violations to Saban and Bammer’s recent infraction count of 27!

Alabammy

August 21st, 2012
2:27 pm

Go ahead…still won’t slow us down.

sean jones

August 21st, 2012
2:42 pm

why do UGAG fans always like to say somebody else is cheating? My gosh—all bc BAMA is beeter than you doesnt mean they are cheating. Their are alot of teams better than the DWAGS but due to AL GROH—GT isnt one of them

sean jones

August 21st, 2012
2:42 pm

JUST say NO to AL GROH in 2013

A person SMART enough to know.....

August 21st, 2012
2:46 pm

sean jones is a HEWITT Fan.

SugeKnightDawg

August 21st, 2012
2:47 pm

Alabammy,

Forgive Dawglasville. I believe he meant to say that UGA has won more bowl games than anyone else in the SEC East, not the SEC overall.

truth

August 21st, 2012
2:57 pm

Enter your comments here

Jacket Man

August 21st, 2012
2:59 pm

I have to agree with those who have suggested that WnE might be a good suspect in this matter. He actually stalked GA Tech recruit, and eventual signee, Vad Lee, over the Internet, and his “communications” with HIM were NOT pro GA Tech by any means. If the contact with this recruit was an attempt to “keep him committed to UGA,” I would suggest this would be morin line with WnE’s recruit stalking mode of operation.

truth

August 21st, 2012
2:59 pm

Who cares Georgia will go 8-4 or 10-2 every year, they are garbage

The Factor

August 21st, 2012
3:00 pm

Sometimes, as one who actually attended UGA, I wish we could lose a part of our fan base.

Note: Don’t confuse Factor and me. I been posting a long time as The Factor

A person SMART enough to know.....

August 21st, 2012
3:04 pm

About be on 790 co call out WnE on the radio.

truth

August 21st, 2012
3:07 pm

Hey “The Factor” , did I get that right, like anybody cares what you call yourself. Georgias fan base is terrible. The team is an average , middle of the road college team year in, year out.

GTFansRNerds

August 21st, 2012
3:39 pm

Please, this could be a Georgia Tech fan. I see them go on the UGA page all the time, posing as Georgia fans.

Whiskey Breath

August 21st, 2012
3:42 pm

Here is the deal fellow Crimson Tide brothers. Ga people can make up statements and not
have to back it up or prove it. Nobody makes them pay a price, or be accountable. In fact, they do it so much, it’s just big joke to them. At Bama, we generally have to back up what we say. At Ga, you don’t have too. For some strange reason they have always been given a pass.

harold

August 21st, 2012
3:47 pm

THIS IS NOT GOOD FOR UGA!

Dawglasville

August 21st, 2012
4:01 pm

Alabammy – I blogged earlier and admitted being wrong. It was numbers I looked up last week. I was not surprised to see that Bama had the most bowl wins. I was surprised to see that we have more bowl wins than UT. We have the 2cd most bowl wins, not bowl trips, of the teams currently in the SEC. Alabama and Saban have the winningest program in college football. I say that, even if Notre Dame has more championships. They are done. I do not like your coach or the way you guys operate, but I don’t have to. I am not your fan base.

Whiskey Breath – you are just playing blog now. You have plenty of Bama bloggers who type, “UGA is nothing but thugs,” or, “Richt is a hypocrite,” or, “Georgia people can’t read.” If we all stopped playing, “blog,” and had civilized dialogue the world would be a better place.