ATHENS – University of Georgia president Michael Adams said the school did everything it could to get star wide receiver A.J. Green’s suspension reduced, but he did not quarrel with the NCAA’s rejection of the appeal.
“It’s certainly not too light,” Adams said of Green’s four-game suspension,”and yet I’m not in a position to criticize the NCAA. They are trying to send a message about contact with agents and agent runners and representatives.”
Green was suspended for selling his Independence Bowl jersey to a person the NCAA considers an agent, former North Carolina football player Chris Hawkins. An NCAA committee late Friday rejected Georgia’s attempt to get the suspension shortened.
“I don’t think A.J. knew what he was dealing with,” Adams said, meaning an agent. But the fact Hawkins met the NCAA definition of an agent is “part of why I believe they stuck with four games instead of less,” Adams said.
Adams, in an interview before Saturday’s game against Arkansas, said the university got “the best counsel and advice you can get to make an appeal. . . . I think the university did everything to help [Green] that the university could have done.”
Adams acknowledged it “clearly” would be against the rules for a player to sell a jersey to a non-agent as well.
“It was a mistake, and frankly I think it’s time to move on,” Adams said. “He’s a star player and an important player, I understand all of that. . . . But you don’t build a whole season around one player.
“At the end of the year, maybe he’s fresher than some of the defensive backs that are covering him. I’ll try to look on the bright side.”
On another topic, Adams said he spoke to “every employee” of the Athletic Association in a recent staff meeting, delivering the message that he wants a stop put to the off-field problems on the football team. Nine players have been arrested this year.
“They don’t like it any better than I do, and I think they’ll deal with it,” Adams said of the athletics staff. “You’re dealing with 19-year-olds, and we have more [arrests] in the general student body than I would like. But we have had too much in the football team. And so we expect the coaches and the AD’s to provide role models and leadership for their players, and I told the whole Athletic Association staff that.”
He reiterated what he calls the “three Adams rules”:
“You follow NCAA and SEC guidelines. You go to class. And you stay out of trouble.
“You don’t have to be Phi Beta Kappa, but you have to do those three things to play here,” Adams said. “It’s an honor to put on the jersey that says Georgia. And so we expect people to represent us in a positive fashion, on and off the field. That is not an unrealistic expectation.”
Adams wasn’t specific on how the coaches and athletics staff should address the problem. “I don’t tell them how to do their jobs, and they don’t tell me how to do mine,” he said. “But the message there is pretty clear, and I think everybody is in sync now.”
Adams said new athletic director Greg McGarity “feels as strongly or more strongly about [the issue] than I do, and I’m going to depend on him and the coaches to manage it.”