ATHENS, Ga. -- By including coveted tailback prospect Isaiah Crowell into a simulated formation with current Georgia players during an official visit in January, Bulldogs coach Mark Richt committed an NCAA rules violation that has been self-reported by UGA.
Isaiah Crowell was the nation's No. 1 running back in the 2011 class, according to 247Sports.
A March 4 letter from UGA athletics director Greg McGarity to the NCAA stated that Richt would not be allowed to place phone calls to recruits or their families during April's evaluation period as a result of the infraction.
In his correspondence with the NCAA, McGarity also asked for the eligibility of Crowell, a UGA signee, to be reinstated. Jeremiah Carter of the NCAA's Academic and Membership Affairs confirmed Friday to UGA that Crowell's eligibility has been restored.
McGarity's account of the incident during Crowell's visit is as follows:
"Mark Richt and the football staff arranged for the offensive lineman, wide receivers, fullback and quarterback to gather during the PSA's (Crowell) official visit exit meeting in the indoor practice facility that Coach Richt's office overlooks. The current student-athletes walked into the practice facility and were dressed in their game-day uniform tops only and looked up toward Coach Richt's office. ... By the time the PSA made his way to the field, the team was in an offensive alignment without a running back. The PSA was subsequently handed a jersey and stood in the vacant running back position created by the team."
Per McGarity's letter, "Coach Richt knew that the team could not use equipment or run a play to create a tryout activity but did not not check with the Compliance Office beforehand about the offensive alignment. ... Coach Richt knew that the activity could not occur in the stadium, for the public to view, equipment to be used or for an actual play to be run an did not believe this constituted a game-day simulation."
The Bulldogs asked for a ruling from the SEC regarding the matter and were told that the formation was indeed a violation of an NCAA bylaw aimed at restricting "game-day simulation" for visiting prospects.
NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199 states that "An institution may not arrange miscellaneous, personalized recruiting aids (e.g. personalized jerseys, personalized audio/video scoreboard presentations) and may not permit a prospective student-athlete to engage in any game-day simulations (e.g. running onto the field with the team during pregame introductions) during an official visit."
UGA hopes the violation regarding Crowell will be considered secondary in nature.
Here is the view from Richt's office of UGA's new indoor practice room.
"UGA does not believe a recruiting advantage was gained as the PSA's mother has stated that her son knew he was going to attend UGA since he was a young child," McGarity's letter stated.
In addition to phone call restrictions, Richt was to receive a letter of admonishment for his actions.
*** Recently, UGA also reported five violations regarding the attendance of two former Bulldogs players at Ray Drew's commitment announcement in late January. UGA has stated that the coaching staff was unaware of Drew's actions. Drew signed with UGA in early February.