ATLANTA • The NCAA put Georgia Tech on four years of probation, fined the school $100,000 and stripped its ACC title game victory from the 2009 football season on Thursday for violations that also included problems in the men’s basketball program.
Georgia Tech did not lose scholarships and was not ruled ineligible for postseason games in either sport, but the basketball team had the number of recruiting days and official visits reduced for the next two seasons.
The NCAA vacated the final three games of the football team’s 2009 season — a loss to rival Georgia, the Atlantic Coast Conference championship win over Clemson and the Orange Bowl loss to Iowa — for using an ineligible player. It was the Yellow Jackets’ first season under coach Paul Johnson.
The NCAA said Georgia Tech should have declared receiver Demaryius Thomas, now of the Denver Broncos, ineligible after he accepted $312 worth of clothing in ’09 from former Jackets quarterback Calvin Booker, who was working for a sports agent.
But the investigation took a harder turn when athletic director Dan Radakovich broke NCAA rules by alerting Johnson that Thomas and safety Morgan Burnett would soon be interviewed.
It seemed obvious to the NCAA that Thomas and Burnett were told to prepare answers to questions they would be asked during the interviews. In its 26-page report, the NCAA wrote that it decided not to make a finding of its interview with Burnett after he “consistently denied” accepting free clothing. The NCAA committee on infractions wrote, however, that a violation occurred in regard to Thomas.
A blog report speculated that Thomas, the Broncos’ first-round pick in 2010, and Burnett received gifts of a shirt and watch while playing for the Yellow Jackets. Thomas, rehabilitating from a torn Achilles’ tendon, said in a text message to the Denver Post that was not true.