UGA reports nine secondary violations
Georgia has self-reported nine secondary violations of NCAA rules this year — a list of transgressions that provides a glimpse into the minutiae of the NCAA rulebook.
The violations, revealed in response to an open-records request by the AJC, cover a range of sports — a football coach returning a call to a high school junior, basketball recruits sitting in the wrong seats in Stegeman Coliseum, a track-and-field recruit being reimbursed an extra 5 cents per mile.
All crossed the line of NCAA bylaws.
Schools routinely self-report secondary violations to the NCAA, which defines them as inadvertent missteps that don’t create a significant competitive advantage. Georgia’s nine violations since Jan. 1 are a typical number for that time period; UGA reported 10 in the final six months of last year.
“Not to make any excuses, but the NCAA manual is over 400 pages thick, with other interpretations out there too,” said Eric Baumgartner, Georgia’s assistant athletics director for compliance. “I think sometimes it does get bogged down into the minutiae, but certainly on some of [the violations] I think they are preventable.”
Baungartner said all of the violations reported this year came to light internally, usually because coaches called them to the compliance department’s attention..
“It’s a great process we have,” Baumgartner said, “in that coaches are comfortable enough to say, ‘Hey, I made a mistake; I’m letting you know.’”
Georgia’s nine violations, only one involving the football program, provide a primer on the intricacies of NCAA rules:
- A football coach, not identified in the documents, returned a missed telephone call to an unfamiliar number that turned out to be the cellphone of a recruit who was a junior in high school. That violated NCAA rules because it was before the permissible time period for calling juniors. The case has not been resolved.
- A men’s basketball coach participated in a TV interview while a recruit’s game played in the background. The case was resolved with “rules education” for the coach.
- Women’s basketball recruits on an unofficial visit were provided seats “outside the general seating area” of Stegeman Coliseum by a parent of a current player. NCAA rules allow prospects to sit in the general seating area but not in premium seats. Resolution: rules education.
- The baseball team had 36 players receive financial aid or participate in a game — one above the limit. The case remains open, but Baumgartner said a typical penalty would be to have the number of permitted players reduced by two next season (to 33).
- A track coach replied to a text message from a prospect, breaking the rule against sending texts to recruits. It would have been OK to reply if the message had been an e-mail. The case remains open.
- A visiting track recruit was reimbursed for mileage at last year’s rate of 55 cents per mile instead of this year’s rate of 50 cents. Resolution: The difference — about $7, Baumgartner said — was returned to UGA and donated to charity.
- A women’s tennis coach publicly commented on a walk-on player before she was admitted to UGA. Resolution: rules education.
- A men’s tennis coach watched a recruit “participate in recreational activities” during an official visit to campus. The case is pending.
- A member of the equestrian team participated in a competition before completing the repayment of prize money she had won. Baumgartner said student-athletes sometimes agree to repayment plans to gain NCAA eligibility and that in this instance one payment remained. The case is pending.