ATHENS — Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones has been cleared to play by the NCAA, which found no violations occurred stemming from his relationship with his former AAU basketball coach in Columbus.
The school was notified late Monday night by the NCAA that it had reviewed and agreed with UGA’s initial report on Jones. The school essentially found that Jones and Tony Adams, the coach, had a pre-existing relationship — prior to Jones becoming a football prospect — that allowed Jones to be eligible.
“Based on the research and information that we had done, we felt that it met the benefits interpretation that the NCAA has allowed institutions to use for benefits received from individuals based on their prior relationship,” UGA compliance director Eric Baumgartner said on Tuesday. “So using that, and based on the information we were able to gather, we submitted the information believing it met that. The NCAA and the SEC were in good in terms of reviewing that as quickly as they did and coming out in the end, the conclusion was that yes, their relationships met the interpretative stance.”
Head coach Mark Richt issued a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“I appreciate the work of our compliance office for its time and effort in providing a thorough, comprehensive report and I’m thankful for the timely manner in which the NCAA reviewed and evaluated all the facts to reach a decision,” Richt said in the statement. “ We’re ready to move on with preparations for our season opener.”
The Ledger-Enquirer reported in June that police records, stemming from an investigation of the Columbus Parks and Rec Department, found that Jones had received several payments from Tony Adams, his former AAU basketball coach. That included plane tickets to and from Los Angeles, where Jones was playing as a freshman at Southern California. Other payments, including for a laptop, were found in a later report.
But Adams and Jones had also known each other for some time, and the NCAA allows for athletes having a pre-existing relationship.
Georgia and the NCAA have not released any other information on the investigation or its findings. Georgia turned in its findings on its internal investigation to the SEC last week.
“So for football purposes, that’s before the ninth grade,” Baumgartner said.
Jones, a sophomore, is expected to start at outside linebacker for Georgia and perhaps be one of the defense’s top players. The Carver-Columbus graduate sat out last season after transferring from Southern California.
“That’s gonna be a lot of weight off of him,” said junior tailback Richard Samuel, who played with Jones last year on Georgia’s scout team. “He’s gonna be excited, being able to play, being able to contribute. That’s all he’s been talking about, being able to get out there on the field, being able to have fun.”
Georgia is still looking into the eligibility of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the men’s basketball team’s star recruit who was also mentioned in the initial report.
“We are still working towards that,” Baumgartner said. “But obviously with Jarvis being a football student-athlete and them being in practice right now and them having their first game on Sept. 3, that was, not to say priority one, but ultimately that was the one we had to rectified sooner. But certainly we’re working on the other cases as well.”