ATHENS - Remember the Josh Harvey-Clemons saga that lasted through the end of signing day? Ah, how can we forget. Well, Georgia has indeed reported an NCAA secondary violation to the SEC, stemming from the delay in receiving the player's letter-of-intent.
As you will recall, Harvey-Clemons, the outside linebacker from Valdosta, announced his choice for Georgia on the morning of Feb. 1. Georgia head coach Mark Richt gave an interview to ESPNU around 30 minutes later and talked about Harvey-Clemons.
Harvey-Clemons signed the LOI at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 1, according to a copy provided by UGA. That was shortly after announcing his decision for Georgia.
But his grandfather, Woodrow Clemons, didn't sign it until the next day at 7:30 a.m.
The NCAA rule is that a coach cannot publicly comment on a recruit until he has received the letter. It's easy to assume that coaches often break that rule and no one finds out about it because the LOI quietly arrives. But in this case the saga between Harvey-Clemons and his family caused the whole world to know that Richt had commently prematurely.
Here's how Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity explained the situation in a letter to the SEC, in which McGarity also asked for relief from any penalties. (And in any case, secondary violations are regarded as inadvertant and don't normally result in harsh penalties.)
"Given the prospect's announcement and subsequent live individual interview both on ESPN and that the interview (between Richt and ESPNU) had been coordinated by the Sports Communication Office, Coach Richt believed the National Letter of Intent had been signed by the prospect."
The letter from Georgia to the SEC also states that it wasn't known until "approximately" 11 a.m. on signing day that they hadn't actually received Harrvey-Clemons' letter.
"Coach Richt notified the Compliance Office within minutes of him becoming aware of what had transpired and made no further comments regarding the prospect throughout the day," Georgia letter to the SEC states.
"It should be noted that the prospect signed the NLI on February 1st, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. prior to Coach Richt's comments. Unfortunately, there was a long and unanticipated delay in obtaining the signature of the prospect's legal guardian which prevented him from returning the signed NLI immediately. Our Compliance Office has already met with the individuals involved and reminded them of our procedure regarding complying with NCAA Bylaw 13.10.2. Additionally, we will include this topic in future rules education meetings with the appropriate parties."
Details on Commings incident
- Now an update on Sanders Commings, who was arrested last month for a misdemeanor domestic battery charge. Chip Towers at the AJC had this last Friday, but I just had my chance to look over the investigation from the UGA student code of conduct board.
Commings and his girlfriend, the alleged victim, have yet to comment publicly, and they were not reached, or at least haven't yet, by UGA. One of the witnesses named on the arrest report also wasn't reached, while another stated she did not see the incident, but picked up the girlfriend and that she "did not have any marks, but that she was very upset and crying and yelling."
Two other witnesses who were with Commings did speak, including former football player Jeremy Longo, who retired from the team last year because of injuries. Longo told the investigator that he, Commings and a third witness, Kyle Green, were leaving Magnolia's (a downtown Athens bar) when Commings' girlfriend "walked up and started talking with Mr. Commings ... she grabbed his jacket and said 'you are not leaving without me' or words to that effect." Longo then said he stepped between them, and the girlfriend again grabbed Commings' jacket.
"Mr. Longo said that Mr. Commings knocked her hand off him and pushed her away, but not in a hard manner," the report reads. "Mr. Longo said that when she was pushed, that she did not fall down, but did not know where on her body Mr. Commings pushed her."
The girlfriend then started crying and walked into Magnolia's. Longo also told the investigator that Commings and his girlfriend had "a recurring argument."
No charges have been filed in the case yet. When I spoke recently with Clarke County prosecutor C.R. Chisholm, he said it would be late February at the earliest that he got a chance to look at the case.
As for what happens with Commings with the team, I have been hearing for some time from several sources that Commings is facing a two-game suspension for the start of next season. However, my understanding is this also isn't finalized yet, and his situation is still under review, and the outcome of the case certainly should figure into that. That's why nothing is announced yet and his status is still considered under review.