(Updated 6:50 p.m. )
The NCAA has informed the University of Georgia that investigators will interview one UGA student-athlete “to determine his knowledge of or involvement in, directly or indirectly, any violations of NCAA legislation,” according to a document obtained Monday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The athlete’s name was redacted before the document -– a copy of an e-mail from the NCAA to UGA -– was turned over to the AJC in response to an open-records request.
The e-mail was sent by NCAA Assistant Director of Agent, Gambling and Amateurism Activities Marcus M. Wilson to UGA Assistant Athletic Director of Compliance Eric Baumgartner shortly after the NCAA informed UGA by phone last Wednesday that investigators would come to the Georgia campus to conduct an “inquiry.”
The probe is believed to be the latest in a series of investigations of possible improper benefits received by college football players from sports agents. Investigations also are underway at North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Alabama.
UGA said it removed the athlete’s name from the NCAA e-mail because of a federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the privacy of student education records.
UGA said the NCAA requested an interview with only the one Georgia athlete.
The top NFL prospect on Georgia’s football team, junior wide receiver A.J. Green, said last week that he was asked by UGA officials about an agent-affiliated party in Miami that triggered the NCAA investigations at North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama. Green said he told UGA, as he told reporters, that he has “never” been to Miami.
Green declined to answer other questions about the matter because of instructions from UGA officials, who said the NCAA requested that the school’s officials, coaches and athletes not comment on the investigation.
“In order to protect the integrity of the investigation, please refrain from disclosing the details of the investigation as we discussed with anyone except your athletic director and/or president,” Wilson wrote to Baumgartner. “Should you decide to speak with them, please inform them of the necessity of protecting the integrity of the investigation as well.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt, in an interview Monday night, declined to comment on the NCAA e-mail.
With preseason camp starting next Monday — and with NCAA investigations typically protracted processes — Richt was asked if he is concerned that he might not know the outcome of the probe when practice begins.
“As usual, I’ll worry about things I can control,” Richt replied. ” I can’t really control it, but I’ve got no indication at all that there’s any reason to believe that all of our guys won’t be practicing Day 1. So that’s my expectation right now. If something changes, then we’ll adjust.”
In the e-mail, Wilson asked Baumgartner to have the student-athlete “review and sign” an attached “NCAA Interview Notice” before meeting with investigators. The e-mail, which did not say when the interview would be held, said the athlete “may have personal legal counsel present.”
The “NCAA Interview Notice” cautions that refusing to provide information or providing false or misleading information could violate NCAA ethical-conduct legislation.
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