Georgia athletic officials said Wednesday that tight end Orson Charles has no eligibility issues for his alleged contact with a booster when he was a University of Miami recruit.
Charles toured Nevin Shapiro’s Miami Beach mansion in 2008 after his junior year of high school, according to a report by Yahoo! Sports.
Shapiro, serving a 20-year prison sentence for his role in a Ponzi scheme, alleges he provided impermissible benefits to 72 Miami football players and other athletes between 2002 and 2010.
“The University of Georgia is aware of the article mentioning Orson Charles and has been in communication with the NCAA,” Georgia said in a statement issued Wednesday. “There are no issues with UGA or eligibility issues with Orson Charles.”
NCAA president Mark Emmert said Wednesday the NCAA has been investigating the Miami case for five months.
“I’m not one to throw stones because I know that the bottom line is it’s hard to be perfect,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said of college football’s latest scandal. “We’re just trying like mad to do things right.”
Said kicker Blair Walsh, a South Florida native who was recruited by Miami after he committed to Georgia: “It’s crazy. I’ve always been a ‘U’ fan, so I hope they figure it out.”
Richt, a former Miami quarterback and 1982 graduate, said he had not read the Yahoo report, but on the short ride to a lunchtime speaking appearance Wednesday at the Athens Rotary Club, he turned on the radio and heard some details.
“It’s pretty dramatic, would be a good word for it,” Richt said. “But I didn’t hear a lot. … I don’t know all the details.”
Charles is among the players Shapiro says he made improper recruiting contact with while they were recruits. The report did not detail any extra benefits Charles received.
Charles, now a junior, visited Shapiro’s mansion with his Plant High School football coach Robert Weiner and then-Miami quarterback Robert Marve, according to Shapiro. The booster said he gave money, cars, yacht trips, jewelry and other gifts to players.
Georgia already got good news earlier this month when the NCAA determined that starting outside linebacker Jarvis Jones did not violate rules due to a pre-existing relationship with those connected to his Columbus AAU program.
“Not to say I wasn’t concerned about it, but I didn’t think about it a lot, I didn’t dwell on it much,” Richt said. “Until I heard more, I was just going to move forward as if everything was going to be OK, in both these cases, really.”
Richt not too concerned yet about missing tailbacks
Brandon Harton, a walk-on awarded a scholarship last week, led all rushers with 51 yards on 12 carries Wednesday in Georgia’s second preseason scrimmage. Ken Malcome (10 yards on five carries) also worked with the first team.
Richard Samuel and Isaiah Crowell remain out with injuries.
Richt says there’s a chance that Crowell, bothered by a sore groin, will practice on Friday. Samuel, out with a strained quadriceps, could return early next week.
Richt said he’s not too concerned as long as Samuel, a junior, and Crowell, a freshman, return next week to get two weeks of preparation for Boise State.
“We still have got to learn some more about Isaiah, just as far as how much he does know, how much he really understands, how well can he stand up to some of the blitzes and all that kind of stuff in pass protection,” Richt said. “We’ve seen enough to know that he’s capable and he didn’t have any fear. … It would be more important for Isaiah to get in there sooner than later.”
Quarterback Aaron Murray completed 11 of 16 passes for 108 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Hutson Mason was 13 of 27 for 125 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
Receiver Rantavious Wooten had five catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. Israel Troupe had five catches for 50 yards and freshman Malcom Mitchell had three catches for 37 yards.
Georgia ranked sixth in royalties in the 2010-11 athletic year in licensed merchandise sold by Collegiate Licensing Company schools.
The top five were Texas, Alabama, Florida, Auburn and Michigan. Georgia ranked just ahead of Kentucky, North Carolina, LSU and Penn State.
Georgia said its gross royalties were $4.81 million, up 1 percent from the previous year.
This and that
Inside linebacker Alec Ogletree led the scrimmage with eight tackles and had a sack. ? Georgia is not ranked in Sports Illustrated’s top 25. The magazine doesn’t see much improvement in the Bulldogs’ record. It predicted the team will go 7-5, 4-4 in the Southeastern Conference. …Richt said nobody was injured in the scrimmage, but center Ben Jones dealt with cramps at the end of the scrimmage. “Ben had an hour aerobics class today and I don’t think he hydrated,” Richt said. “Then he goes and scrimmages and runs wind sprints afterwards and it got to him.” … Starting right guard Chris Burnette again was out with a stomach illness. Dallas Lee worked the first team, Murray said. … Walsh went 4-for-6 on field goals. Richt said the “extra-point snaps weren’t all that keen.” Said Walsh: “The snaps were not great, but Ty (Frix is) always usually pretty good with the snaps. As long as the ball’s on the ground in a spot, I’ve got to make it. That’s on me.”