Two days away from playing a key Southeastern Conference game at Missouri, Georgia suspended Heisman Trophy candidate Todd Gurley indefinitely Thursday.
The junior tailback from Tarboro, N.C., is alleged to have violated NCAA rules regarding improper benefits for amateur athletes. The accusation is the result of the alleged sale of memorabilia and/or autographs, multiple people connected with the athletic program told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The UGA Athletic Department did not release details of the incident, but SI.com, citing an anonymous source, reported that Gurley allegedly received $400 to sign 80 pieces of memorabilia on the Georgia campus this past spring.
TMZ, meanwhile, is reporting that someone is trying to sell video and photos that purportedly show Gurley sitting in a car and signing memorabilia -- but the images do not show any payment.
If the allegation proves to be true, it would violate Gurley’s amateur status as an NCAA athlete and result in his immediate ineligibility to play. That could be for a number of games or the rest of the season, depending on the size and scope of the violation.
With Gurley leading the way, the Bulldogs are 4-1 this season, 2-1 in the SEC. He has rushed for 773 yards on 94 carries, an average of 8.2 yards per carry, and has eight rushing touchdowns. In his career, Gurley ranks second in school history in touchdowns and third in rushing yards.
Behind Gurley’s prolific season, Georgia is 4-1 this season and is 2-1 in the Southeastern Conference. With a victory Saturday against conference-foe Missouri, Georgia would become a strong contender to play for the SEC championship in December at the Georgia Dome. Without him, Georgia would face a stiff challenge to contend for the SEC title.
Freshman Nick Chubb would likely start the Missouri game in Gurley's absence, with sophomore Brendan Douglas as his primary backup. Two running backs -- freshman Sony Michel and junior Keith Marshall -- are out with injuries.
Staff writers Chip Towers and Tim Tucker contributed to this article.
Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com