ATLANTA — Georgia coach Mark Richt said Sunday he must plan to be without A.J. Green for a third straight week, but he's hoping the NCAA shortens the star receiver's suspension this week.
The NCAA ruled last week Green must sit out four games to regain his eligibility after selling a game jersey for $1,000. Green sold his jersey from last season's Independence Bowl. Richt said he hopes the NCAA will hear the school's appeal to shorten the suspension on Tuesday.
Richt said he's not sure when the appeal will be heard, and he said "there's no guarantee we'd get an answer the same day."
He said he has been told Tuesday is "the best-case scenario." Green already has been held out of two games, including Saturday's 17-6 loss at South Carolina.
Georgia (1-1 overall, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) dropped out of the Top 25 on Sunday. Richt said Sunday he can't count on having Green back for this week's SEC game against No. 12 Arkansas. "When the four-game thing came out, I think we have to base our plan on that and then react if it gets reduced after that," Richt said.
The coach said as long as there is any hope the NCAA could shorten the suspension, he must make a plan for Green to play.
"If you have a player like A.J. Green, you want to use him," Richt said. "If there's any hope of using him, you've got to get that plan."
South Carolina held Georgia to two field goals without Green, who is rated as one of the nation's top receivers and a possible top-five pick in next year's NFL draft.
Green had 53 catches for 808 yards and six touchdowns in 2009 despite missing all or part of five games due to injuries. The NCAA's ruling on Green came as part of its wide-ranging probe of the relationship between agents and players from several SEC and Atlantic Coast Conference schools.
When asked if he is optimistic about the appeal, Richt said "Right now I guess the best way I could say it would be I'm hopeful, but to say I have any clue how it could go, I have no idea."