ATHENS -- After more than a month of uncertainty, Jarvis Jones is officially cleared and ready to start his Georgia football career.
Late Monday night, the NCAA notified the Georgia athletics department that it agreed with the school’s internal conclusion clearing Jones. The NCAA and Georgia found that no violations occurred stemming from his relationship with his former AAU basketball coach in Columbus.
The school essentially found that Jones and AAU coach Tony Adams had a pre-existing relationship -- prior to his 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 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.”
Baumgartner spoke on Tuesday to Jones, who has been practicing with the team and was never ruled ineligible.
“He was pleased. He was happy,” Baumgartner said.
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 Adams. 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.
“So, for football purposes, that’s before the ninth grade,” Baumgartner said.
Georgia initiated its own inquiry in June after the Ledger-Enquirer report. It turned in its findings to the SEC last week, which then turned it over to the NCAA, per normal protocol.
Baumgartner said his office “vetted all the information” available, including the facts cited in the police report. It also conducted interviews, but he would not be specific.
“Was there information out there, yes. Were we able to use that information, yes,” he said. “But obviously from a thoroughness perspective, from an NCAA review, you’ve just gotta go across the board. Not just pick up on one piece of information, but make sure anything and everything is looked into rather than just one specific (piece) that was published in the newspaper.”
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 and also interned this summer in the UGA compliance department. “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.”
Tight end Aron White said he expects White to be a formidable force on the team.
“He’s definitely going to carry on this tradition that we’ve started of having some great outside linebackers-slash-D-ends,” White said. “He’s a guy who has the height, has the power, has the quickness. So I definitely expect him to be kind of a household name with Georgia fans by the time it’s all said and done.”
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.”