Georgia’s A.J. Green suspended for 4 games
AP College Football Writer
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) – Georgia star receiver A.J. Green was suspended by the NCAA for four games on Wednesday for selling a bowl jersey for $1,000 to someone who qualifies as an agent.
Green sold his jersey from last season’s Independence Bowl. The junior, who sat out the season-opening 55-7 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette, must miss three more games before regaining his eligibility, according to the ruling from the NCAA.
No. 22 Georgia (1-0) is heading into a key Southeastern Conference game against No. 24 South Carolina on Saturday without Green, who’s also banished from SEC games against No. 14 Arkansas and Mississippi State. He will be eligible to return for an Oct. 2 contest at Colorado.
Green was caught up in a wide-ranging NCAA probe of the relationship between agents and players from several Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference schools.
Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus was declared ineligible for two games for accepting nearly $2,000 in improper benefits during two trips to Miami. South Carolina is awaiting its own NCAA ruling on the eligibility of two players: starting offensive tackle Jarriel King and first-team cornerback Chris Culliver.
Green issued an apology to Georgia coaches, his teammates and fans “for the mistake in judgment” in a statement released by the school.
“I very much regret all that has taken place and the distraction that’s been caused,” Green said. “I’ve learned a valuable lesson and hope others can learn from my mistake. I can only focus my attention now on practicing and looking ahead to getting back with my teammates as quickly as possible.”
The 6-foot-4 Green is rated as one of the top receivers in the nation. He is projected as a possible top-five pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
Last season, Green had 53 catches for 808 yards and six touchdowns despite missing all or part of five games due to injuries.
The NCAA ruling is a blow to Georgia’s hopes in the SEC’s Eastern Division.
“Certainly I’m disappointed with the outcome,” coach Mark Richt said. “However, we have games to play and that’s where our focus needs to be in the coming days and weeks. Other players will have to step forward and I’m confident they will do that.”
Georgia will have receiver Tavarres King, who served a one-game suspension against Louisiana-Lafayette after being charged with underaged possession of alcohol this summer. Also returning this week is the Bulldogs’ leading rusher from a year ago, Washaun Ealey, who was suspended for one game for leaving the scene of minor car accident and driving on a suspended license.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray completed 19 passes to 10 different receivers in the opening game. Now, he’ll have to get by without Green in three more contests.
“We’re just going in with the same mindset,” Murray said before the suspension was announced. “Our receivers are unbelievable. I trust any of them out there. This past week, most of them had catches. All of them were making unbelievable plays.
“Now, it would definitely be nice have (Green) out there. But the rest of the guys have worked unbelievably hard and they’re ready to step up no matter what.”
The ruling comes after much speculation that Green was involved in the NCAA’s probe into improper benefits given by agents to athletes at several schools, including North Carolina.
Part of the probe was a party at Miami Beach. Green insisted he didn’t attend the party, but Wednesday’s announcement showed the NCAA was looking at other benefits received by the player.
The school said Green has repaid the $1,000 to a charity.