Crowell violation gets Richt punished

Georgia football coach Mark Richt will be barred from phoning recruits and their parents next month during the spring evaluation period after the school reported an NCAA secondary violation involving Isaiah Crowell, the prized recruit from its 2011 signing class.

The violation reported by Georgia took place on Jan. 23 during the running back from Carver High School in Columbus’ official visit to campus.

Richt and the football staff arranged for offensive players to gather in the new indoor practice area wearing uniform tops during Crowell’s exit interview and to look up to Richt’s new office, which overlooks the area. Richt, Crowell and his family then left to join the players.

“By the time (Crowell) made his way to the field, the team was in an offensive alignment without a running back,” according to a March 4 letter written by Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity to the NCAA that was obtained under an open records request. “(Crowell) was subsequently handed a jersey and stood in the vacant running back position created by the team.”

Georgia said in the letter that “Richt has reported that the idea was to create a feeling for (Crowell) that he was needed at the running back position that was left empty by the team.”

NCAA rules prohibit a game day simulation. Georgia said Richt “knew the game day simulation rule prevented (Crowell) from participating in any pregame type activities and did not believe this constituted a game day simulation.” Richt did not check with compliance about whether the offensive alignment was permitted.

Georgia received an interpretation from the SEC office that “game day simulation” is all-encompassing and includes the scenario that occurred on Jan. 23.

Crowell was declared ineligible by Georgia, but reinstated by the NCAA on Friday.

“UGA does not believe a recruiting advantage was gained as the PSA’s (Prospective Student-Athlete’s) mother has stated that her son knew he was going to attend UGA since he was a young child,” McGarity wrote in the letter to the NCAA.

Besides the restrictions during the April recruiting period, Richt received a letter of admonishment.

Georgia reported five violations after former players David Pollack and Randall Godfrey spoke at defensive end Ray Drew’s commitment announcement ceremony on Jan. 28. Drew signed with Georgia in February.

Georgia did not impose any sanctions, but said it would increase efforts to educate former lettermen about NCAA contact rules.

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