No good deed goes unpunished.
A Thomas County Central ceremony with the best of intentions resulted in the University of Georgia reporting violations to the NCAA.
On Jan. 28, Central senior Ray Drew announced to college football fans his intentions to play for the Bulldogs. The inclusion of former Bulldogs and NFL players David Pollack and Randall Godfrey at the event on Central’s campus resulted in five violations relating to illegal contact before signing a letter-of-intent.
“UGA became aware of the issue shortly after the decision was announced and articles of the decision with pictures of the announcement were posted on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's website," athletic director Greg McGarity wrote in a letter to the NCAA. "Immediately after viewing the article, UGA began to investigate the potential violation."
Pollack’s and Godfrey’s appearance implies the recruitment of Drew, constituting violation. Drew, however, insists the two former defensive standouts never discussed recruitment with him. The former Yellow Jackets defensive end added he had never met or talked to Pollack before the announcement.
“I met Mr. Godfrey a few times prior to my announcement,” Drew said. “Nothing was said about recruiting and he never tried to persuade me to go Georgia or anything like that.”
Central football coach Bill Shaver was stunned by the news of violations and contends there were no wrongdoings with the event.
“Obviously, when he wanted to invite those two guys from Georgia, he already had his mind made up where he was going,” Shaver said. “I knew where he was going 2 1/2 weeks before that. He knew he was going to Georgia.”
Shaver is displeased that Central’s effort to celebrate Drew’s accomplishment with his classmates has come into question.
“I know there’s 9,000 different NCAA rules and all this kind of stuff, but those two guys that came and spoke are not employed by Georgia. David Pollack is a media person. How’s that any different than (a Times-Enterprise reporter) covering Ray’s event, other than (he) didn’t talk? — (Pollack) did.
“It just seems like to me that if the NCAA is worried about those things, they’ve got bigger fish they need to fry like money being offered to players and coaches lying about what players did and all that kind of stuff — instead of a small school trying to make a nice announcement where a kid’s going to school.”
Randy Young, mass media teacher at Central, was involved in organizing the event and invited Pollack.
“If I had any suspicion that there was any sort of violation involved, I can assure you I wouldn’t have done it,” Young said. “It was the fact Ray wanted to do something nice. My involvement and Thomas County Central’s involvement had nothing to do with the University of Georgia. It was about his day being the day he wanted it to be.”
Drew was recruited to play linebacker at Georgia. He said he doesn’t have any second thoughts about the way he handled his announcement.
“I’m not disappointed in it at all. One thing that I was always raised up on, don’t do anything that you will regret,” Drew told ajc.com. “I have no regrets about it. I feel that it was done very well. It was very classic. It was a great statement for the Bulldog Nation.
“I have no regrets about it. I’m not disappointed at all.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.