ATLANTA — The NCAA upheld its four-game suspension of Georgia tailback Todd Gurley on Thursday night, ending the school’s final hope of having its biggest star in uniform for Saturday’s game against Florida.
In a statement released Thursday night, the NCAA’s student-athlete reinstatement committee denied Georgia’s appeal of Gurley’s four-game suspension. The NCAA announced the suspension on Wednesday, when it said Gurley accepted more than $3,000 for autographed memorabilia and other items over a two-year period.
Gurley, who already has been held out of two games, will be eligible to return on Nov. 15 against Auburn.
Georgia said Thursday night it was "very disappointed" its appeal for Gurley’s immediate reinstatement was denied.
"We believe our case to the NCAA for Todd’s immediate reinstatement was strong and compelling," Georgia said in a statement. "However, we now have exhausted all available options and look forward to Todd’s return to competition on Nov. 15. The full attention of the Bulldog Nation now needs to be focused on our team and Saturday’s important game against Florida."
Gurley will also miss No. 9 Georgia’s game at Kentucky on Nov. 8.
When announcing the four-game suspension, the NCAA said it "strongly considered" a harsher punishment. Gurley, a junior, was found to have taken cash from multiple individuals, even though the NCAA said he received "extensive rules education about the prohibition of receiving payment for autographs."
The NCAA said Wednesday Georgia’s "due diligence in its investigation" and Gurley’s "full disclosure of his involvement in the violations" were factors in not imposing a longer suspension.
The NCAA said Wednesday Gurley must repay a portion of the money to a charity of his choice. He also must perform 40 hours of community service. The organization did not specify how much of the money he would have to repay or a deadline to comply with the rest of his sanctions.
Gurley was considered a leading Heisman Trophy candidate before the suspension. He leads Georgia with 773 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. He has returned a kickoff for a 100-yard TD. He even threw a 50-yard pass — Georgia’s longest of the season.
In two games without Gurley, freshman Nick Chubb has 346 yards rushing and three touchdowns in road wins over Missouri and Arkansas.