NCAA upholds A.J. Green's suspension

Updated: September 18, 2010, 4:26 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ATHENS, Ga. -- The NCAA Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement upheld Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green's four-game suspension on Friday.

During a conference call on Friday morning, Georgia officials appealed Green's ban. The suspension came after the Bulldogs star admitted selling his 2009 Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000 to former North Carolina defensive back Chris Hawkins, who the NCAA described as an agent or someone who markets amateur athletes.

Hawkins has denied he is an agent.

University of Georgia president Michael Adams told the Journal-Constitution on Saturday the school did everything it could to get Green's suspension reduced, but Adams did not quibble with the NCAA.

Our concentration is the same as the last two weeks, which is preparing for the next game. We'll look forward to A.J.'s return for the Colorado game.

-- Georgia head coach Mark Richt on NCAA's decision

"It's certainly not too light," Adams told the newspaper of Green's suspension, "and yet I'm not in a position to criticize the NCAA. They are trying to send a message about contact with agents and agent runners and representatives."

Green missed the Bulldogs' first three games of the season and next week's game at Mississippi State. He already agreed to repay the $1,000 to charity.

"Our concentration is the same as the last two weeks, which is preparing for the next game," coach Mark Richt said in a statement. "We'll look forward to A.J.'s return for the Colorado game."

Last season the 6-foot-4 Green led the Bulldogs with 53 catches for 808 yards despite missing all or part of five games with injuries. He's already projected as a possible top-five pick in next year's NFL draft if he gives up his senior season.

The Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement, which is comprised of representatives from NCAA member colleges, universities and athletic conferences, ruled on Green's case. It had the power to overturn or lessen the penalty, but chose not to alter the original decision.

"We respect the committee's decision and will focus on moving forward," Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said.

Adams, in an interview before Saturday's 31-24 loss to Arkansas, said the university got "the best counsel and advice you can get to make an appeal. ... I think the university did everything to help [Green] that the university could have done."

The NCAA did not comment on the ruling.

Green has been practicing with the Bulldogs, but Richt said the team approached this week's game as though their top offensive threat would not be on the field. By the end of the week, other receivers were getting the bulk of the work with the first team and quarterback Aaron Murray.

"It's not as big an issue this week," Richt said after Wednesday's practice. "The other two games, we were really hopeful but weren't really sure until late in the week both weeks. This week, we start on the premise that he can't play."

Green's teammates were hoping for a favorable ruling, believing his return would have provided a huge emotional lift before Saturday's game.

Plus, he's a big part of the offense and would undoubtedly make life easier for Georgia's young quarterback. Murray is a redshirt freshman made just his third career start.

"Anytime you have A.J. on the field, you're going to be a better team. I don't care who it is -- an NFL team, whatever," tight end Aron White said. "He's a tremendous player with an amazing amount of ability."

That said, the Bulldogs insisted they were prepared to carry on without Green.

"We have to attack the game plan like he's not going to be there," White said before the appeal was denied. "We're still the Bulldogs, with or without A.J."

Green's suspension stemmed from an investigation into several cases of athletes allegedly having improper contact with agents.

Alabama end Marcell Dareus, the defensive MVP of last season's national title game, received a two-game suspension for receiving preferential treatment and agent benefits, including airfare, lodging, meals and transportation during a pair of Miami trips.

North Carolina played its first game against LSU without 13 players -- most of them key starters -- after a probe into improper dealings with agents expanded to possible academic misconduct. As of Friday, only tailback Shaun Draughn had been cleared to play Saturday's home opener against Georgia Tech.

South Carolina also has received a letter of inquiry from the NCAA. The Gamecocks played their opener without cornerback Chris Culliver and offensive lineman Jarriel King, but both were cleared to return for last week's win over Georgia.

ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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