Johnson commits tame NCAA violation

Georgia Tech self-reported an NCAA violation committed by football coach Paul Johnson for a rather harmless offense. According to Johnson, the violation was for making public comment about graduate transfer Patrick Skov a half-hour before rules permitted him to do so.

“Some of that stuff is ridiculous,” Johnson said. “It certainly isn’t gaining an advantage over anybody.”

NCAA rules permit coaches to only confirm that a prospect is being recruited prior to the athlete signing a letter of intent or a grant in aid. On the April day that Skov transferred to Tech from Stanford, Johnson said he was asked in an interview about the move. Johnson said, having been told that the transfer was completed, that he answered that the team was excited to have him. As it turned out, the process was still 30 minutes from being official, Johnson said, rendering his comments an NCAA violation, albeit a rather insignificant one.

In reporting the violation, the school classified it as a Level III violation, defined as a breach of conduct that is isolated or limited in nature and provides “no more than a minimal recruiting, competitive or other advantage.” The violation report was obtained by the AJC through an open records request.

The to-the-letter enforcement of NCAA rules speaks to Tech’s increased vigilance on its rules compliance following two investigations in recent years. The school was placed on four years’ probation in 2011 and had its 2009 ACC title stripped following an investigation into impermissible benefits given to football standout Demaryius Thomas and received an additional two years in 2014 for a series of impermissible phone calls and text messages from coaches to prospects, mostly made by coaches who believed they were operating in accordance with NCAA rules.

“They’ve got to do what they feel like they’ve got to do,” Johnson said.

Johnson was required to attend a rules education session.

“I was told not to do it,” Johnson said. “I was like, O.K.”

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