The "missing man" formation that Georgia used during Carver running back Isaiah Crowell's January official visit may have helped influence the highly ranked tailback recruit to pick the Bulldogs. But it has also resulted in Georgia reporting an NCAA violation, Crowell being at briefly ineligible and head coach Mark Richt being penalized during the April recruiting period.
Crowell, the 2009 and 2010 Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City Offensive Player of the Year, was reinstated as eligible to play for Georgia on Monday afternoon.
In a letter sent to the NCAA, Georgia reported that an "interpretation" from the SEC office ruled it to be a violation. Georgia formally asked that Crowell be reinstated, and the motion was approved by the NCAA.
UGA also reported that Richt received a "letter of admonishment" and will be prohibited from speaking by telephone to recruits or families during the April 2011 evaluation period.
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The SEC's interpretation was the "missing man" formation was an improper gameday simulation, which is prohibited by NCAA rules. UGA asked that once Crowell was reinstated that the letter be forwarded to the NCAA's director of secondary infractions, an indication it believes this will only be ruled a secondary violation.
The event took place on Sunday, Jan. 23, the final day of Crowell's visit. Richt and his staff arranged for the team's offensive lineman, receivers, fullback and quarterback to gather during Crowell's exit meeting in the indoor facility. The current players were dressed in gameday jerseys and looked up to Richt's office, which overlooked the practice field.
At that point Richt, Crowell and his family left the office and went down to the field. By the time they arrived there, according to the letter, "the team was in an offensive alignment without a running back." Crowell was then handed a jersey and stood in the vacant running back position.
"Coach Richt reported that the idea was to create a feeling for the PSA (prospective student athlete) that he was needed at the running back position that was left empty by the team," the letter reads, adding that Richt was aware off the gameday simulation rule, but did not believe it applied in this case.
"The Compliance Office has interviewed the PSA's family and coach Richt regarding the activity," the letter goes on to state. "UGA does not believe that 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. Further, the PSA did not know it was impermissible to participate in the 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 and did not believe this constituted a game day simulation."