Is it possible for a college football team’s realistic title hopes to end on a Thursday night in October?
Georgia running back Todd Gurley, a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy and the Bulldogs’ single biggest hope for winning the SEC East title and possibly playing in the inaugural college football playoff, has been suspended indefinitely.
The school announced in an email Thursday night that Gurley has been suspended from competition for “an ongoing investigation into an alleged violation of NCAA rules.” The assumption is Gurley will not play in Saturday’s SEC game at Missouri but that’s not mentioned in the news release.
Announcements like this usually generally indicate an investigation over whether a college athlete received an improper benefit, thereby compromising his amateur status.
UPDATE: Our Chip Towers and Tim Tucker are reporting that Gurley is alleged to have sold memorabilia and/or autographs.
Multiple persons connected with the program have told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Gurley is alleged to have violated NCAA bylaws regarding improper benefits for amateur athletes. The accusation is the result of the alleged sale of memorabilia and/or autographs, the sources said.
For the full story, go to MyAJC.com.
UPDATE II: Here’s a link to my fully updated column.
Former Georgia receiver A.J. Green received a four-game suspension in 2010 for selling his Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000 to a North Carolina man who was considered by the NCAA an agent or someone who markets athletes.
Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was investigated for selling autographed memorabilia last year. Despite photos surfacing of Manziel signing items, the NCAA could not find any evidence that he received money for the autographs and ultimately reached an agreement with the school to suspend him only for the first half of the season opener against Rice for an “inadvertent violation” of rules.
Theoretically, Gurley’s suspension could be short or for the remainder of the season, depending on the violation and what can be proven.
Georgia’s news release quotes coach Mark Richt saying, “I’m obviously very disappointed. The important thing for our team is to turn all our attention toward preparation for Missouri.”
That will be easier said than done. The Bulldogs are 4-1 largely because of Gurley, who’s rushed for 773 yards, an 8.22 yards per-carry average and eight touchdowns in only five games. Georgia ranks 10th nationally in rushing and 108th in passing.
Gurley is the nation’s consensus leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. In ESPN’s latest Heisman Watch, he was given nine out of 10 first-place votes by the website’s panel of experts. The only other first-place vote went to Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott.
FOR THE FULLY UPDATED COLUMN ON MYAJC.COM, CLICK HERE.