Late Monday night, four Georgia players were arrested and charged with misdemeanor counts of theft by deception.
Here’s the story from Seth Emersen:
Three of the players are charged with what amounts to double-dipping: Each allegedly took normal stipend checks from UGA and deposited them via a mobile ap, and then also cashed them somewhere else, according to UGA chief of police Jimmy Williamson. A fourth player is charged with taking his rommates’ deposited stipend check and cashing it.
The UGA athletics department detected the checks clearing twice and contacted the UGA police, Williamson said.
Who was involved?
Red-shirt freshman wide receiver Uriah LeMay, sophomore safety Tray Matthews, red-shirt sophomore defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor and linebacker James DeLoach.
What else do we know?
The details are still coming in but it appears that Matthews, DeLoach and Taylor are accused of “double dipping” on their own stipends and LeMay is accused of taking his roomates stipend (without his permission) and cashing it.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution, says the value of each of these stipends is $71.50 each and the total amount cashed by the players was $786.50 (the total of 11 checks).
According to Mark Weiszer, UGA met with the police two weeks ago and after investigating, warrants were issued after the players returned from spring break
What does this mean for Georgia?
Mark Richt gets a bad rap for failing to “control” his players at Georgia but over the last several years Richt has sent quite a few highly-touted players packing including Zach Mettenberger, Nick Marshall, Isaiah Crowell, Washaun Ealey, Caleb King and most recently Josh Harvey-Clemons.
One interesting note on this particular case is that it was Georgia who reported this information to the police. It was the right thing to do, but I’m sure it has some wondering how other Universities and Athletic Departments would have handled the same situation.
Here’s what UGA police chief Jimmy Williamson had to say about that issue:
We normally don’t take out warrants on students during spring break because we’re afraid they may get stopped,” Williamson said. “I don’t want one of them to get stopped for some traffic violation and then that county lock them up. We would do that for all students.
Ultimately, this is another example of kids making a stupid mistake. We all have made mistakes in the past, whether this bad or not, and now it’s time for the players to pay for their mistake.
So what does Georgia do?
Nick Marshall, Sanford Seay and Chris Sanders were all booted from the team in 2012 for a “violation of team rules” which was rumored to involved stealing from their teammates.
If you use that circumstance as a guide, if LeMay did actually take the stipend from his roomate without asking, and remember it’s alleged at this point, then (I believe) he’s gone.
As for the others, I would expect some sort of suspension which would include the pivotal Clemson game that will highlight the first week of the college football season.
On the field, the biggest potential loss for Georgia is Matthews. Matthews was plagued by injuries as a true freshman but was good enough to start several games for Georgia and was expected to start in 2014. With the aforementioned loss of Harvey-Clemons, losing Matthews would be a big blow to Georgia’s inexperienced secondary. Taylor was a contributor last year and was expected to see more playing time and have a bigger role this season. As for Deloach? With new Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt in town, the expectation was for the OLB job to be up for grabs but the competition is expected to be fierce at that position. LeMay has been cited by some as one to watch this spring, but wide receiver is one of the deepest positions on the football field for the Bulldogs.
At this point, it’s a wait and see for Georgia as they have been put into an all-to-familiar off-season position by stupid decisions made by their student athletes.
UPDATE: Seth Emersen is reporting that all four Georgia players are present for the Bulldogs first practice of the spring. I have a feeling that it will be a while before we know the final decision in regards to these players (especially with Richt being historically vague in terms of suspended players)