ATHENS — Up until recently, Georgia never put restrictions on where an athlete could transfer, even if it was to a rival school. Now that stance has been “adjusted,” athletics director Greg McGarity confirmed.
The adjustment came after a meeting with Kirby Smart, the new football head coach, who was dealing with a player who wanted to transfer.
“Kirby brought me up to date on this when we were discussing our stance, and so that stance has been adjusted,” McGarity said on Friday.
This is in the wake of the news that junior tailback A.J. Turman was denied a release to transfer to Florida or Miami. Per NCAA rules, denying a player a release to a school means the player cannot accept a scholarship to that school. That has happened at many other schools over the years, and sometimes a player has paid his or her own way for a year, or just chose another school.
It had never been the case at Georgia, however, which had liberally allowed transfers anywhere. McGarity cautioned that was a “stance,” not a policy, one that will be reviewed on an individual basis.
“We are not totally restricting transfer opportunities for our student-athletes. We will take each request on its own merit to determine if any restrictions should be placed on the release due to any extenuating circumstances,” McGarity said. “Student-athletes are afforded the opportunity to appeal the decision through the institution.”
That’s much different from what McGarity said two years ago, after Georgia Tech denied basketball player Robert Carter a release to speak to Georgia about a transfer.
“The University of Georgia doesn’t restrict a student-athlete from any school that is seeking a transfer,” McGarity said at the time. “The student-athlete’s best interest is at the forefront of our program. If they’re not happy here we’re not going to dictate where they can and can’t go.”
But Smart, who spent the past nine years at Alabama, brings a different viewpoint. Turman told the AJC that Smart told him that giving a full release to transfer is “not what he does.”
Smart is due to meet with the media after Saturday’s spring practice.
Turman appealed his case to the NCAA, then received an e-mail telling him he would be released to any school in Florida other than those two schools.
It’s actually been very rare recently for players to try to transfer directly from Georgia to a rival; J.J. Green left last year for Georgia Tech after no restrictions being put on his release. Other former Georgia players have ended up at rival schools – Nick Marshall at Auburn, Zach Mettenberger at LSU, Tray Matthews at Auburn – but they were all dismissed by UGA, and Marshall and Mettenberger first went to a junior college.