Jones investigation nears conclusion

semerson@macon.comJuly 25, 2011 

ATLANTA — The investigation into Jarvis Jones’ eligibility is nearing an end, at least on the Georgia end of it.

Athletics director Greg McGarity said Monday that the school is hoping to turn its report over to the SEC by the end of this week. Then it will be up to the conference and the NCAA, which are not involved in the investigation yet.

Last year, when star receiver A.J. Green was eventually suspended four games, the NCAA initiated the inquiry. This year it’s Georgia, after Jones’ relationship with his former AAU basketball coach was brought to its attention by a June report in the Ledger-Enquirer.

Georgia is scheduled to hold its first practice next week and opens the season Sept. 3 against Boise State.

“It just puts a sense of urgency on everything,” McGarity said before the UGA Day event in Atlanta. “You try to wrap up everything as soon as you can. We’re hopeful that we can have everything wrapped up here before the end of this week.”

Jones, a sophomore who sat out last year after transferring from Southern California, is expected to start at outside linebacker if he’s eligible.

“Our goal is that we will have an answer early enough so we will be able to prepare properly,” head coach Mark Richt said.

An investigation into the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, involving Jones’ former AAU coach, found that the coach had paid for several flights for Jones from Los Angeles to Atlanta. That would be an NCAA violation, unless it was found that Jones and the coach had a pre-existing relationship, and therefore it wouldn’t be considered an extra benefit.

McGarity said Georgia’s compliance director, Eric Bumgartner, has been interviewing the key people, including Jones.

The school’s hope is that there’s nothing beyond the initial report on the case.

“You would think that the findings were conclusive. If there’s more stuff there, I’m sure it would’ve been in the police report or in the findings that were reported in the Columbus paper,” McGarity said. “We’re hopeful that there wouldn’t be anything else there. Because if it was, it would have been certainly in that report. Hopefully the report is conclusive and you’ve got everything there.”

McGarity declined to characterize his feelings as positive or negative on Jones’ status.

“I quit trying to guess how things will turn out, because the bottom line is it is what it is, and you report what you find out and try to uncover everything, try to uncover everything at one time,” he said.

The Columbus situation also involves basketball star recruit Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Head coach Mark Fox said he hadn’t heard anything new.

“You don’t ever want these situations,” Fox said when asked if he was worried about Caldwell-Pope’s eligibility. “But I think it’ll be handled appropriately. There’s really not much I can do. It’s not a decision I’m gonna make.”

A few more notes from Monday night’s meeting:

• The four-year-old daughter of new inside linebackers coach Kirk Olividatti has been battling leukemia, Richt announced. Olividatti’s wife Keely hasn’t left the hospital for 30 days, the head coach informed the crowd. She spoke to Richt on Monday, and agreed that Richt could make the daughter Kasyn’s fight public.

• Richt reiterated that Richard Samuel will start off first on the depth chart, mainly because he has the most experience, despite spending last year at linebacker. Freshman tailback Isaiah Crowell has received the most preseason attention.

“Nothing was promised to him,” Richt said of Crowell. “We didn’t promise he was gonna start or anything like that. We promised to give him an opportunity to compete. We think he has a tremendous skill set. We think he’s got a chance to be very outstanding. But he’s gotta learn what to do, and he’s gotta prove that he can hang onto the football and all those type of things. But I don’t think he’s afraid of competing. So we’ll see what happens. I mean Richard’s the No. 1 tailback not for any other reason than he’s the No. 1 guy we’ve got.”

• Freshman recruits Kent Turene and Devin Bowman, each waiting academic clearance, are “still up in the air,” according to Richt.

• McGarity told the crowd the new high-definition scoreboard at Sanford Stadium would be “the one thing, without question, that garners the most attention” from fans.

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