Richt Discusses Team and Religion

ATHENS - This week's firing of cheerleading coach Mari Lou Braswell based partly on a religious discrimination charge by one of her athletes may have an impact on football coach Mark Richt's program. But Richt isn't thinking that far ahead, he said.

"I haven't given it a great deal of thought," Mark Richt said. "We'll make any adjustments we need to make. I'm not stubborn."

Richt is a devout Christian and has been outspoken about his faith in the past. He takes his team on an annual trip to a different area church each fall and pre- and postgame prayers are common. Richt's brother-in-law, Kevin Hynes, is the team chaplain. Although he is employeed by FCA, he is very involved with the football program. Rule No. 7 in the team weight room is "Ask God for help."

In November of last season, Braswell was placed on 12 months probation based at least partly on a report from the school's legal affairs office stating that she discriminated based on religion. She was told be a lawyer for the school to avoid doing anything that might make a team member uncomfortable. Braswell plans to appeal her firing today.

Although Georgia's athletic association has received letters from civic groups protesting Richt's outspoken beliefs, a football player has never lodged a complaint. Musa Smith, who started at running back in 2002, was a Muslim but said he never faced any discrimination on the team.

The Bulldogs have a 20-minute chapel service before each game, but quarterbacks David Greene and D.J. Shockley said that and all of the team's spiritual activities are completely voluntary.

"Nobody looks at you funny if you don't go," Greene said. "Richt is by no means throwing his faith on anybody. Coach Richt has never forced that upon anybody."

Richt sends a letter to each of his incoming player's parents detailing the church trips and asking if it's OK for their child to attend.

"If it's not OK, there are no repercussions."

BAD REVIEW: Richt wasn't pleased with what he saw in Wednesday's practice.

"They hit the wall today," he said. "I think the majority of the guys were feeling sorry for themselves today. It just wasn't a good day."

There was some good injury news as tackle Max Jean-Gilles (ankle) and wide recievers T.J. Gartrell and Mario Raley (groin) returned to practiced.

"We're pretty close to having everybody back who will be back for the first game," Richt said.

Running back Tyson Browning (knee) is still sitting out but could be back Monday, Richt said.

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