Georgia linebacker and former Carver High athlete Jarvis Jones may have received more than plane tickets from his former AAU basketball coach’s unauthorized city bank account.
In June, the Ledger-Enquirer reported that former Columbus Parks and Recreation Department director and Georgia Blazers AAU basketball coach Tony Adams used funds in 2009 from an account set up for the city-sponsored basketball team to purchase four plane tickets between Atlanta and Los Angeles for Jones, who played football for one year at the University of Southern California before transferring to the University of Georgia a year ago.
Further investigation into police records shows Adams also withdrew $700 in cash from the account and made notes on the transactions that may link them to Jones, a Georgia Blazers player and standout basketball and football player in high school.
If tied to Jones, the withdrawals could be considered NCAA violations as the organization bars amateur sports organizations such as the Georgia Blazers from providing expenses for athletes in excess of actual and necessary travel, room and board, apparel and equipment for practices and games.
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The University of Georgia is currently investigating the allegations and expects to conclude the probe before fall practice starts next week.
The purchases came to light when the Ledger-Enquirer obtained police records from an investigation into the Parks and Recreation Department. The records show Adams and former recreation specialist Herman Porter managed an account not authorized by the city, used it to make purchases unrelated to the running of the basketball team, and worked with former East Marietta Basketball Inc. director William Fox to funnel money from sports-gear giant and former Georgia Blazers sponsor Nike Inc. into the account.
More research of police records shows that in early 2010, while Jones was attending USC, Adams twice withdrew cash and made notes on the transactions that may connect the money to Jones.
Adams withdrew $400 from an account on Feb. 16, 2010, and labeled the transaction “Jarvis laptop,” and he took out $300 on March 12, 2010, and labeled it “Georgia Blazers Jarvis Jones,” according to the records.
The University of Georgia athletic department had no additional comment about the withdrawals when asked about them Tuesday, Georgia sports information director Claude Felton said.
Already in question is the amateur status of Jones and incoming freshman Georgia basketball player Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a former Georgia Blazers and Greenville High star.
Columbus police records show the account also was used to pay a cell-phone bill for Caldwell-Pope’s mother.
The University of Georgia Athletic Association is investigating potential NCAA violations resulting from these reports and expects to turn over its findings to the SEC by the end of the week. Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity said Monday he was unaware of an NCAA investigation into the status of Jones and Caldwell-Pope.
At question is Jones’ relationship with Adams. Jones’ previous legal guardian, Shelley Stephens, was a 10-year Parks and Rec employee, but it is not clear how Jones and Adams first met. In prior instances, the NCAA has penalized athletes who were found to have received improper benefits from longtime acquaintances largely because their relationships began as result of involvement in athletics.
The opening of the University of Georgia’s investigation was prompted by the Ledger-Enqurier’s reporting on the issue and came after the conclusion of the criminal case surrounding the inquest.
Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren said NCAA representatives have not requested the police file.
“They said at some point in time they would ask for the complete file,” Boren said Wednesday. “I don’t believe they have done that yet.”
In March, Adams pleaded guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy to defraud, Porter pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor theft charges, and Fox, whom police said acted as a conduit for the Georgia Blazers program to get money from Nike Inc., pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to defraud. Each was placed on probation and ordered to pay restitution without jail time.
Jones was the 2008 Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City Player of the Year in football and basketball, and he signed with USC in February 2009. He played one season for the Trojans but left before the start of his sophomore season after the school’s training staff did not clear him for play following a neck injury he sustained late in his freshman season. He then transferred to Georgia, where he redshirted in 2010 and is projected to start at outside linebacker in the fall.
Caldwell-Pope was ranked by recruiting site rivals.com as a 5-star shooting guard and was named a McDonald’s All-American as a senior.
Staff Writer Seth Emerson contributed to this report.