On making enticement of a UGA football player a criminal act

Credit: Jim Galloway

Credit: Jim Galloway

Updated at 7:25 p.m.: Shortly after I posted this piece on Georgia's 2003 law that makes it possible for universities to seek civil penalties against those who muck about with their athletes, I got a call from Austin Rhodes, the talk radio host in Augusta, who pointed me to his latest Facebook posting:

"While civil remedies are available, GA State Representative Barry Fleming called in on the show a few minutes ago suggesting that he and other legislators are exploring the possibility of criminalizing the enticement of an amateur athlete to knowingly break contractual agreements (such as scholarship agreements), pertaining to their sport of choice."

It looks like the Legislature may not be done with the topic.

Original post: Psst. Bulldog fans: Want to daydream about a little payback this weekend?

A person familiar with the investigation of the possible violations by Georgia running back Todd Gurley told the AJC on Friday that it's a "significant" case of the sale of memorabilia and there is a possibility that Gurley may not be cleared to return to the field this season.

Should this become permanent, UGA’s season could be done.

But this afternoon, I received a note from Ellen Williams Reynolds, a lobbyist at the state Capitol, who reminded me that in 2003 she helped state Rep. Chuck Sims, R-Ambrose, pass a bill “aimed at those individuals who knowingly entice student-athletes to commit acts which result in a university going on probation.”

Reynolds, an Alabama fan – bless her heart – was angered by her beloved team being placed on probation as the result of a “secret witness.”

Regardless of Reynold's motivation, the bill was signed into law by Gov. Sonny Perdue. It's still on the books. A taste:

"The institution shall be entitled to recover all damages which are directly related to or which flow from and are reasonably related to such improper activity and to such penalties, disqualifications, and suspensions.

"Damages shall include, but not be limited to, loss of scholarships, loss of television revenue, loss of bowl revenue, and legal and other fees associated with the investigation of the activity and the representation of the institution before the sanctioning organizations in connection with the investigation and resolution of such activity.

"If the institution is the prevailing party in its cause of action, it shall be entitled to an award of court costs, costs of litigation, and reasonable attorney's fees. The institution may also request and the court may enter an injunction against any person found liable from having any further contact with the institution, its student-athletes, and student-athletes who have expressed or might express an interest in attending the institution and from attending athletic contests, exhibitions, games, or other such events in which one or more of the institution's student-athletes is participating. The right of action and remedies under this Code section are in addition to all other rights of action which may be available to the institution."

So far as we know, the law has never been invoked. But one can dream.