NCAA issues suspensions for Jackson, Okogie

Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner talks with guard Josh Okogie during their game against Clemson.

Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner talks with guard Josh Okogie during their game against Clemson.

The NCAA suspended Georgia Tech guards Tadric Jackson and Josh Okogie three and six games, respectively, for violating rules regarding preferential treatment, according to a person familiar with the decision. The school released a statement Tuesday evening confirming the ruling.

The judgments were lower than the guidelines that the NCAA has set for the length of suspensions based on the value of the benefits they received.

As school officials waited for the NCAA to bring back a ruling after they had self-reported the violations, their hope had been that the suspensions would be lighter than the suggested lengths, as they believed that there were mitigating circumstances in the violations. Jackson and Okogie received transportation, apparel and meals from an individual, who identified himself in a CBS Sports article as Ron Bell of Arizona, who is not a Tech employee nor was deemed a booster. Bell said he was a friend of Pastner's.

Jackson’s benefits were valued at about $525, Okogie’s at $750. The NCAA’s guidelines call for a suspension of 20 percent of the regular season for the value of Jackson’s benefits (six games) and 30 percent of the season for Okogie’s (nine games).

Jackson will be back for the North Texas game Nov. 24. Okogie will be reinstated for the Tennessee game Dec. 3, although he may not be able to play because of his dislocated finger.

The season-opening loss to UCLA counts as one of the games in the suspension, as Tech withheld both players from the game.

According to Bell’s account in the CBS Sports article, Jackson and Okogie were flown to Arizona in May for five days. In addition, Bell purchased their meals and bough them apparel. Bell alleged that Pastner was aware of the trip and tacitly encouraged it.

In a news release put out by the school last week, Tech determined that Pastner did not know about the violations until Oct. 2, at which point he reported them to the athletic department’s compliance office. Pastner has declined comment to this point, wanting to wait until the NCAA had made its ruling.

At Tech's season opener against UCLA in Shanghai on Saturday (Friday in the U.S.), school president G.P. "Bud" Peterson offered his endorsement of Pastner, saying he was "proud to have him as our basketball coach."