OIf you haven’t seen the headlines today, they rang loud and clear that Todd Gurley will remain off the football field for another two games. Gurley will extend his sidelining suspention for the upcoming Florida and Kentucky games.
The final ruling came down from the NCAA late Tuesday stating Gurley received over $3,000 for multiple signings over multiple years. The University stated they would appeal the NCAA’s reinstatement committee ruling.
The real controversy comes from the comparison of Gurley’s incident to other NCAA standouts. It is no surprise to fans, regardless of your team affiliation, that athletes are asked for their autograph. The NCAA has clean, finite rules stating that players cannot profit from their likeness or imagine, a.k.a. signing an autograph and getting paid.
Gurley confessed to signing memorabilia and receiving compensation. The University of Georgia suspended Gurley once reports of said behavior were reported and The University and Gurley maintained full cooperation with the NCAA as they completed their investigation. Without a doubt, a violation of rules was committed but prior situations have gained media attention and no charge ever carried the weight of Gurley’s suspension.
There is a hidden issue behind the number of games suspended. Georgia was riding on the back of its star tailback before setting off for a back-to-back week of road trips. Gurley was at the peak of his career at Georgia and on track as a top contender in the Heisman race.
The unfairness when comparing prior situation sent Georgia fans into an absolute fit and rightly so. To top it off, it appears Gurley’s honesty and direct university involvement did not lessen the blow of the final punishment as many expected.
Most fans the hearing committee would allow Gurley to step back onto the field but instead Gurley was handed another two game suspension, required to pay back a portion of the funds to his choice of charity and serve 40 hours community service. Previous NCAA violation sentences consisted of a half-game suspension and plea of not-guilty receiving no punishment to date.
Biased behavior is to be expected, but a level of fairness must also be reached. The NCAA needs to review their polices, especially considering the recent August Ed O’Bannon federal court case.
The recent influx of student-athletes getting into NCAA hot water over autographs and memorabilia will be an issue needing further review in the near future.
Yes, Gurley was at fault and he fully accepted his shortcoming. From here, the issue of outright honesty or straight out denial to these types of allegation needs to be taken into consideration. In short, The current NCAA regulations need to be revised.
Personally, I hope that Georgia players have learned to avoid the temptation. Being an athlete means more than just suiting up and playing football. People are always watching and waiting for something to happen to take advantage of their position.
As of Wednesday, Georgia has an active appeal with the NCAA. A decision could release Gurley early or be completely rejected. Only Time will tell. In the meantime, Georgia will have to keep playing without Gurley in the backfield just in time for the Georgia-Florida Classic.