One of AJC recruiting writer Michael Carvell’s final online posts last week was a suggestion for Mark Richt to thumb his nose at an NCAA bylaw that would force Richt to miss the graduation ceremony of incoming freshman lineman and Troup County valedictorian Chris Burnette. The story of Richt and his promise to attend Burnette’s graduation isn’t new in these parts, but Carvell’s recommendation that Richt should accept a minor violation and go anyway breathed a little bit of new life into the story.
David Pickle, the NCAA’s managing director of publishing, responds to Carvell’s suggestion and provides the NCAA’s perspective as well as clarification on the rules and processes involved. Once you get past the insitutional defensiveness, the response makes several key points:
- The decision for Richt not to attend was not an edict handed down from the NCAA; it was an (apparently correct) application of the rules by the UGA compliance office.
- As Carvell noted, Georgia could ask the NCAA for a waiver. They had not asked for a waiver at the time of Carvell’s post.
- The NCAA isn’t completely rigid when it comes to the application of its rules. To quote, "One of the hallmarks of Myles Brand’s administration as NCAA president has been to provide flexibility to schools when the circumstances of a situation appear to fall outside of the intended scope of a rule."
- At least in the opinion of the author, it would be entirely "appropriate" for a waiver to be granted in this case.
So it’s not exactly correct that an NCAA bylaw is forcing Richt to break his promise. The ball seems to be in Georgia’s court. A waiver would allow Richt to attend the graduation, and it would be with the NCAA’s blessing instead of in defiance of the bylaws. Academics gets its time in the spotlight, there’s no violation, and everyone’s happy. A waiver at least deserves the effort.
Your move, Georgia.