ATHENS — Georgia received good news from the NCAA on Tuesday. Five-star freshman basketball player Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was cleared to compete in the 2011-12 season.
Caldwell-Pope, a 6-foot-6 wing player from Greenville, Ga., was being investigated for receiving improper benefits from a person in Columbus involved with AAU basketball and the local parks and recreation department.
“I am pleased that the situation regarding Kentavious’ eligibility has been resolved,” Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox said. “Kentavious can now put these issues behind him and focus on becoming a better student-athlete. We can all move forward in our preparations for the coming season.”
A police investigation in Columbus alleged that that an unauthorized bank account controlled by Columbus parks and recreation director Tony Adams and his associate Herman Porter paid for the cell phone bill of Caldwell-Pope’s mother. Both Caldwell-Pope and junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones — who had two round-trip flights to Los Angeles paid from the account — played AAU basketball for the Georgia Blazers, a “city-funded, Nike-sponsored” group.
Jones’ issue was investigated separately by UGA. He also had his eligibility restored shortly before the football season began.
Georgia would not comply with the AJC’s request to see the NCAA’s report, citing federal privacy laws protecting student-athletes. However, sources familiar with the situation indicate that Caldwell-Pope made restitution for the benefits he received — reportedly $280.90 — and therefore was able to have his eligibility restored.
Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity was very happy with the outcome.
“You just don’t know how these things will turn out,” he said. “All you can do is do the background work, get to the bottom of everything, investigate, report it and then you receive whatever determination by the NCAA. At the end of the day, it’s good for Kentavious. Now they can move forward and no issues.”
McGarity said he once again employed the services of Mike Glazier of the lawfirm of Bond, Schoeneck & King to lead their investigation.
Caldwell-Pope is the highest-profile member of the Bulldogs’ five-member 2011 signing class. The five-star prospect, who was ranked the No. 3 small forward in country by Scout, averaged 30 points per game over his last two seasons at Greenville. Georgia will be counting on him to help fill the scoring void left with the loss of last year’s leading scorers, Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, to the NBA draft.