NCAA Upholds A.J. Green's Suspension
September 17, 2010
ATLANTA (AP) -- Georgia will have to play two more games without star receiver A.J. Green.
The NCAA turned down his appeal Friday evening, letting stand the four-game suspension Green received for selling an Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000 to a person deemed to be an agent.
The ruling came less than 24 hours before the Bulldogs (1-1) hosted No. 12 Arkansas in a Southeastern Conference game and ensured that Georgia will be without its best offensive player for a third of the regular season.
Green also will miss next week's SEC game at Mississippi State before he's eligible to return for an Oct. 2 contest at Colorado. He already agreed to repay the $1,000 to charity.
"Our concentration is the same as the last two weeks, which is preparing for the next game," coach Mark Richt said in a statement. "We'll look forward to A.J.'s return for the Colorado game."
Green was held out of Georgia's opener, a 55-7 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette, while the school awaited clearance from the NCAA. After the four-game suspension was handed down last week, the Bulldogs lost at South Carolina 17-6.
Former North Carolina and Marshall player Chris Hawkins has acknowledged buying Green's jersey, but claims he's a collector, not an agent.
Last season the 6-foot-4 Green led the Bulldogs with 53 catches for 808 yards despite missing all or part of five games with injuries. He's already projected as a possible top-five pick in next year's NFL draft if he gives up his senior season.
The Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement, which is comprised of representatives from NCAA member colleges, universities and athletic conferences, ruled on Green's case. It had the power to overturn or lessen the penalty, but chose not to alter the original decision.
"We respect the committee's decision and will focus on moving forward," Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said.
The NCAA did not comment on the ruling.
Green has been practicing with the Bulldogs, but Richt said the team approached this week's game as though their top offensive threat would not be on the field. By the end of the week, other receivers were getting the bulk of the work with the first team and quarterback Aaron Murray.
"It's not as big an issue this week," Richt said after Wednesday's practice. "The other two games, we were really hopeful but weren't really sure until late in the week both weeks. This week, we start on the premise that he can't play."
Green's teammates were hoping for a favorable ruling, believing his return would have provided a huge emotional lift going into a game they need to win in order to avoid an 0-2 start.
Plus, he's a big part of the offense and would undoubtedly make life easier for Georgia's young quarterback. Murray is a redshirt freshman making just his third career start.
"Anytime you have A.J. on the field, you're going to be a better team. I don't care who it is -- an NFL team, whatever," tight end Aron White said. "He's a tremendous player with an amazing amount of ability."
That said, the Bulldogs insisted they were prepared to carry on without Green.
"We have to attack the game plan like he's not going to be there," White said before the appeal was denied. "We're still the Bulldogs, with or without A.J."
Green's suspension stemmed from an investigation into several cases of athletes allegedly having improper contact with agents.
Alabama end Marcell Dareus, the defensive MVP of last season's national title game, received a two-game suspension for receiving preferential treatment and agent benefits, including airfare, lodging, meals and transportation during a pair of Miami trips.
North Carolina played its first game against LSU without 13 players -- most of them key starters -- after a probe into improper dealings with agents expanded to possible academic misconduct. As of Friday, only tailback Shaun Draughn had been cleared to play Saturday's home opener against Georgia Tech.
South Carolina also has received a letter of inquiry from the NCAA. The Gamecocks played their opener without cornerback Chris Culliver and offensive lineman Jarriel King, but both were cleared to return for last week's win over Georgia.