The eligibility of two UGA athletes is in question after a police investigation in Columbus, Georgia uncovered illegal activity in the parks and recreation department. The two are football player Jarvis Jones and basketball signee Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
On Sunday, the Ledger-Enquirer reported the following:
Columbus police interviews conducted during an investigation of the Parks and Recreation Department reveal that director Tony Adams and top lieutenant Herman Porter may have jeopardized the amateur status of two University of Georgia athletes who played on the Georgia Blazers, their city-funded, Nike-sponsored AAU basketball team.
Police records show that an unauthorized bank account controlled by Adams and Porter was used to pay for flights to and from Los Angeles for Jarvis Jones, a two-sport star at Carver High School who played football for one season at the University of Southern California, and for the cell phone bill of the mother of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a five-star shooting guard from Greenville High School.
The total cost of four flights for Jarvis Jones from Atlanta to Los Angeles was $828.40. And the cell phone bill that was paid was for $280.90. The phone belongs to Rhonda Caldwell, Kentavious’ mother.
What does this mean for Jones and Caldwell-Pope? At most, both could be suspended for a few games. Jones’ case is a little trickier as he signed with the USC Trojans out of high school. He played eight games in 2009 before injuring his neck. Jones then transferred to Georgia and sat out the 2010 season.
His case is tricky because this alleged violation occurred before he transferred to Georgia. And the flights were to Los Angeles, so the institution that “benefited” from the action was USC. It’s also unknown if Jones paid back the money for the flights. If he did, that would likely be considered positive to the NCAA committee on infractions.
Caldwell-Pope’s case is also unique. The cell phone bill that was paid was in the name of his mother Rhonda Caldwell. If the phone was not in use by Kentavious, or he had no knowledge that Adams/Porter paid for the bill, there shouldn’t be a problem.
Comparing this case to the infamous Cam Newton case of 2010, we have this quote from Mike Slive and Charles Bloom of the Southeastern Conference (emphasis added):
“The term slippery slope is a cliche,” Slive said. “What we need here is concrete action to make sure everyone’s clear that the conduct that Cam’s father entered into is reprehensible and not acceptable. I think to the effect that there’s so much notoriety in this case would make this legislation even more effective than it would otherwise have been.”
Slive said he has spoken to NCAA president Mark Emmert about revising the current legislation and thinks they could begin a review as early as next week and make changes in “a very, very expeditious manner.”
SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said the league’s rule isn’t applicable unless payment is actually made or agreed upon, not just solicited.
“The facts in this case, as we understand them, are that the student-athlete’s father, without knowledge of the student-athlete, solicited improper payments [which were rejected] from an institution the young man did not attend, and that the institution where the young man is enrolled was not involved,” Bloom told the AP in an e-mail.
The difference, of course, is that no money was proven to have changed hands in the Newton case (at least not yet).
So where does this leave Jones, Caldwell-Pope and Georgia? Like I said earlier, at most I believe each player is looking at missing a few games. However, on the surface I don’t think any game suspensions are warranted. UGA will likely self-report some secondary violations and the players should pay the money back if they haven’t already.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.