The SEC has determined that the text messages Georgia coach Mark Richt inadvertently sent to the father of an elite in-state recruit in May constituted a Level I secondary violation of NCAA rules.
That’s the bad news. The good news is UGA was granted relief from the standard minimum penalty associated with Level I violations “based on the fact there was no content to the text messages,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive reported in a July 6 letter to the NCAA. The letter was obtained by the AJC through a Freedom of Information request.
Georgia has yet to hear back from the NCAA approving the SEC’s actions, but that is considered a formality.
“We have nothing to say on this subject,” Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity said.
In McGarity’s May 27 letter of explanation to Slive, he reports that Richt accidentally sent two text messages from his Blackberry to the father of Harris County defensive end Jordan Jenkins on May 26th. Jenkins is considered by many the top prospect in Georgia. Text messages to prospects or their family members are impermissible per NCAA rules until one day after a prospect has signed a national letter of intent with the school.
In the first instance, Richt received a text from Ron Jenkins asking for camp dates. Since Richt did not have the number programmed in his phone, the text was identified as “unknown.” Richt intended to forward the text to a recruiting assistant for identification but accidentally replied to Mr. Jenkins, which was a violation NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199.
Richt immediately reported the inadvertent violation to compliance director Eric Baumgartner, who subsequently asked Richt if Mr. Jenkins had replied. In an attempt to forward Mr. Jenkins’ response to Baumgartner, Richt accidentally replied to Mr. Jenkins again, hence he had to report another text violation.
Level I secondary violations are more serious than Level II violations. But this particular violation was considered Level I only because it involved inpermissible contact of a recruit.