ATHENS — Georgia acknowledged breaking NCAA rules in its recruitment of linebacker Ray Drew.
The school sent a letter to the Southeastern Conference saying that two former football players attended a Jan. 28 news conference in which Drew announced his commitment to Georgia, a violation of five NCAA bylaws relating to illegal contract before signing a letter-of-intent.
While the ex-players aren't named in the letter, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other news outlets reported and photographed Randall Godfrey and David Pollack attending Drew's news conference at Thomas County Central High School.
"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 the letter. "Immediately after viewing the article, UGA began to investigate the potential violation."
Drew signed with the Bulldogs the next week. The self-reported violations will likely be considered minor and handled by the conference.
Georgia spokesman Claude Felton said the school had no additional comment on the violations.
The 6-foot-5, 243-pound Drew was part of Georgia's highly rated signing class, which has bolstered hopes for a program coming off its first losing season since 1996. He is expected to make an impact at outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme.
According to McGarity's letter, one of Drew's high school teachers arranged for the two ex-players to attend the announcement "without the knowledge of the UGA's football staff." The AD said neither former player knew they were violating NCAA rules, either.
"It should also be noted that (Drew) invited the UGA coaching staff to attend the announcement; however, the staff told (Drew) they were unable to attend because NCAA rules precluded them from doing so," McGarity wrote. "Further, the coaching staff was unaware (Drew) invited the two former letter winners, nor did they ask who was invited since they could not attend the announcement."
McGarity said the school has been "very proactive" in educating season-ticket holders and boosters on NCAA rules, but this case exposed a gap in Georgia's efforts.
A letter has been sent to all former letter winners, especially football players, detailing what is allowed in the recruiting process. Also, the two who attended Drew's announcement have been told not to participate in any similar activities and to check with the school's compliance office before any interaction with a prospective signee.
"UGA regrets that this incident occurred but believes this was an isolated/one-time incident with some unusual and atypical circumstances," McGarity wrote.