McGarity indicated that Gurley and his attorney, William King, were not prepared to file with the NCAA until later in October. That turned out to be October 22, which was nearly two weeks after Georgia concluded its investigation, McGarity said.
That’s the part of the entire saga that McGarity called “complex.”
The entire matter started on Tuesday, Oct. 9th when Georgia got an e-mail stating that Gurley had been signing autographs for money. Included in that e-mail was an assertion by the e-mailer that video existed of Gurley signing memorabilia.
McGarity requested to see that video, and later that night he received it.
“The video was bothersome,” McGarity admitted.
Georgia then spent the next two days “information gathering” according to McGarity. On Wednesday the McGarity and his staff met with Swimming and Diving coach Jack Bauerle, who was set to go before a hearing at the NCAA regarding an unrelated matter that month.
King has been retained by Bauerle for representation. McGarity and his staff next met with Gurley, but not before securing him representation.
“The first chance that Todd had representation he got that chance,” McGarity said.
If just so happened that King made the most sense for Gurley, and although King was on the way back to Atlanta, he turned around to represent Gurley during his hearing with Georgia.
“The determination was that William King was the best person to represent Todd,” McGarity said. “He has a tremendous working knowledge of the NCAA.”
Then the process started for Georgia “getting to the bottom” of the Gurley matter as fast as possible. With the aide of the video that had been sent via e-mail to McGarity on Tuesday night, Georgia knew that more than one person had been involved with Gurley signing autographs.
“We knew there was another individual involved. Legal council followed up on that. Todd verified certain facts,” McGarity said.
That’s when Georgia, on Thursday Oct. 9th, took action. The school suspended its best player two days before a critical road game at Missouri.
“We suspended Todd indefinitely,” McGarity said. “We were done on Oct 9th. We were done. It took that amount of time for the process to take place. The decision made to suspended him was on Thursday the 9th. The investigation started the 7th and ended the 9th.”
After Georgia concluded its investigation on Oct. 9 Gurley and King, according to McGarity, were not yet comfortable sending in a reinstatement request to the NCAA. So the process, a very unknown process in the public’s eye, continued slowly.
On Oct. 16th Georgia visited NCAA headquarters for the matter related to Bauerle. But McGarity and other administration officials also briefly discussed the Gurley matter with NCAA staff as well. Later that day McGarity and company arrived back at the Athens airport. When reporters asked about the Gurley case McGarity remembers that conversation and doesn’t know how it became “a big announcement.”
“I said Claude will have a couple of sentences in an hour or so,” McGarity said. “How that all progressed into a big announcement - I have no idea. I don’t know how y’all framed that or talked about it. I just said that Claude would have something for y’all in an hour or so. All of the sudden it became just the biggest news and the biggest announcement.”
Later that night McGarity acknowledged that a tweet from the NCAA had odd difficult timing for Georgia.
The NCAA tweeted: “Regarding Todd Gurley's eligibility, the NCAA is continuing to work with Georgia and is awaiting the school's request for reinstatement.”
According to the AD, McGarity and Georgia were really to sent in the reinstatement paperwork, but Gurley and his attorney were not. McGarity added that the timing of that tweet was horrible.
“That tweet from the NCAA was unexpected,” he said. “When we spoke with everyone the next morning. That tweet was in response to Coach Richt’s comments. It was not as a result of our meeting. They were responding to that. They were clarifying that.”
Richt had tweeted that morning, the morning of Oct. 16th: “I will try to clear up Todd's status. We will let you know if his status changes. Not anticipating it to change this week."
Obviously, in hindsight, it couldn’t change as Gurley and Georgia had not filed for reinstatement.
“There were so many things going on at the time. There were so many people involved from the NCAA,” McGarity said. “The timing couldn’t have been worse for us because it made it seem like we didn’t have our act together. You want to come out there and say something, but that wouldn’t have done any good.”
On Oct. 22, Georgia, Gurley and his attorney filed for reinstatement, saying: “The University hopes for and expects a prompt ruling by the NCAA so that Todd, his coaches, and teammates can adequately prepare for our next game.”
Georgia said that it expected a “prompt ruling” regarding Gurley’s status. Over that weekend, the NCAA asked questions of McGarity and his staff as well as Gurley, which were answered that Saturday and Sunday.
“Clarification. There were questions,” McGarity said. “Once we sent in our report they sent back a list of questions. Some for the athletic association and some for Todd. There was a lot of time and effort extended working all types of hours trying to get this done.”
On Oct. 29, the NCAA set a four-game suspension for Gurley. For “accepting more than $3,000 in cash from multiple individuals for autographed memorabilia and other items over two years.”
McGarity said he didn’t know what to expect from the NCAA - stating that the schools can not set the suspensions.
“You don’t know,” he said. “You are at the mercy of the NCAA.”
Georgia immediately appealed, but lost that appeal a few days before traveling to Jacksonville. Gurley won’t be eligible to play until the Auburn game on Oct. 15. Gurley continues to practice with the Bulldogs.
McGarity, who has been the AD at Georgia since 2010, said he doesn’t understand the criticism from some fans who called the Gurley saga a public relations disaster.
“I know that our compliance office has been criticized that things. PR nightmare? What does that mean?” McGarity asked. “We are about telling the truth around here. I am not so sure I understand that criticism.”
McGarity went on to add that being the athletic director of a major institution isn’t about making everyone happy, but that, as he put it, couldn’t correct every mistake in the media or rumor on Twitter about the matter.
“Being an AD is not a popularity contest. Sometimes people disagree with that. But a lot of times people understand that,” McGarity said. “We are going to follow the rules and support our student-athletes. That’s something we are committed on. I don’t get upset. Human nature kicks in. When you know the whole story - you can go to bed and sleep well at night. You have to get to the bottom on the truth and take the body blows and you know down deep that you are doing the right things. There was a lot of misinformation. I think the effort to get the information out there quick hurts the process. Accountability is the one piece that you miss. It does get frustrating when you have to just take that. It is not the right thing to do. That’s the hardest part is correcting every mistake that’s out there.”
McGarity left the door open for Georgia to take legal action against memorabilia dealers in the future.
“The University is looking at all of its options. The University will certainly discuss that and view that process.”