It only took a memorabilia deal gone wrong for Todd Gurley, running back for the Georgia Bulldogs to get suspended and now, the NCAA has extended this suspension by two more games. The punishment now stands at suspension for four games, 40 hours of community service, and reimbursement of part of the $3000 the player said he received from memorabilia dealers in return for signing his autographs on merchandise.
In the midst of all the drama, the NCAA is being ridiculed for taking this too far, when everyone knows that the news was blown sky-high only because a certain dealer was unhappy with what he got out of Gurley. Now, with the body extending Gurley’s suspension, the voices against the decision, as well as the NCAA’s high-handedness are getting louder. Even when news of the earlier suspension had spread, several people came forth and expressed their displeasure. “I don’t condone breaking rules. But no one will ever convince me that Todd Gurley getting paid for signing his name harms anyone,” tweeted Mike Greenberg. Bomani Jones tweeted his opinion treading the same line too, stating, “I don’t know what Gurley’s situation was, but it sounds like he needed dough. Either way, being offended by this is befuddling to me.”
The absence of Gurley in the ranks hasn’t seemed to affect the Bulldogs’ run though, and this should be good news for the team’s fans. The team’s coach Mark Richt chose not to focus on the ruling, rather putting his efforts and thoughts into the team’s performance. “Right now we are not really worried about that. We’re just really trying to stay focused on getting ready for this game. That’s all we can do right now,” he said, pointing out to the upcoming game against Florida. When asked what his personal reaction to the Gurley situation was, Richt again chose not to make any strong statements, instead saying, “My reaction is, quite frankly, that we could only control certain things. My goal is to control how well we practice and how hard we practice.”
On his part, Gurley simply wants to get back to doing what he does best. In a statement released on the Georgia Dogs website even before the University of Georgia filed an appeal with the NCAA, Gurley stated, “I want to thank the University, coaches, teammates, and the Bulldog Nation for their patience and support. I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made, and I can’t thank the University, my coaches, and teammates enough for supporting me throughout this process. I’m looking forward to getting back on the field with my teammates.”
The NCAA denied UGA’s appeal, and means that Gurley, a proven star in college football and possibly a future NFL star, would play his next game on November 15th when his team takes on the Auburn Tigers. Here’s hoping everyone involved has learned a lesson from the episode!