College Football Notebook

Four Georgia football players charged with theft by deception

Observer News ServicesMarch 18, 2014 

Four Georgia football players were released on bond late Monday following their arrests on misdemeanor charges of theft by deception.

University of Georgia chief of police Jimmy Williamson said Tuesday an investigation found that three players – starting safety Tray Matthews, defensive linemen Jonathan Taylor and James DeLoach – received double payments for stipend checks of $71.50 issued by the Georgia athletic department.

The players deposited the paper checks through a mobile device and also cashed the checks at a convenience store, according to Williamson.

Wide receiver Uriah LeMay, who was redshirted last season as a freshamn after years starring at Butler High, was charged with cashing a roommate’s check after the check already had been deposited through a mobile app, according to Williamson.

The players turned themselves in, and such misdemeanor offenses can result in fines up to $1,000 and jail terms up to one year, campus police said.

Each of the four players was on the field and in uniform when Georgia opened spring practice Tuesday.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said he hasn’t settled on a proper punishment for the players. He didn’t rule out suspensions or dismissals.

“These guys are not going to be perfect,” Richt said. “I know that. If they do something that needs discipline, we’re going to do it. If it causes a guy not to be at Georgia, that’s what is going to happen. If it causes a guy to lose playing time, we’ll do that. If it causes a guy to have some other form of discipline internally, we’ll do that.

“There’s going to be a form of punishment, some form of education. … We’re going to do what we think is the most appropriate thing to do and we’ll go from there.”

Williamson said the investigation began when he was contacted “a couple weeks ago by a senior athletic administrator.”

“They were showing what they thought was some fraudulent activity with some of their accounts,” Williamson said.

Williamson said the investigation revealed the double payments on checks.

“These athletes just did what we see other people doing all the time, other students, employees, people finding ways to get money,” Williams said.

Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity said all players receive the stipend checks.

“It is what it is,” McGarity told The Associated Press in a phone interview on Tuesday. “We’re not going to get into times, amounts of checks, frequency of checks. They’re legal. They receive checks periodically throughout the year.”

Georgia opens spring football practice on Tuesday. It is not known if the players face possible suspensions at the start of the 2014 season.

Arrests and suspensions have been a frequent problem for Georgia in recent years.

Georgia cornerback Shaq Wiggins was arrested in January for driving with a suspended license. Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, who missed the Bulldogs’ Gator Bowl loss to Nebraska following his second suspension of the season, was dismissed from the team by Richt last month for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

Before the 2013 season, kicker Marshall Morgan was arrested for boating under the influence, and tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith was charged with lying about the theft of his textbooks. Georgia suspended four defensive starters for two to four weeks at the start of the 2012 season. In 2010, Georgia had 12 players arrested or charged.

Hoosiers WR hospitalized after swimming accident

A friend who rescued Indiana wide receiver Isaac Griffith as he was drowning at a Florida beach said Tuesday he acted on instinct when the pair and two other friends got caught in a rip current.

“Me and Isaac got pulled farther out than everyone else, so we were having trouble,” Mitch McCune said in a telephone interview. “He was drowning and I grabbed him and got him to shore. It was tough.”

He said once he was able to stand, another friend, wide receiver Ty Smith, helped pull Griffith to shore. McCune wasn’t sure how far from shore the rip current had taken them, but said they were out past the buoys.

McCune performed CPR on Siesta Beach until Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department officers and emergency units arrived.

Police said Griffith was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where spokeswoman Kim Savage said he remained in a medically induced coma Tuesday evening. His condition was critical but stable, and doctors said he was showing “small, but incremental improvements,” she said.

The sheriff’s department said Griffith was drinking in a hotel room with McCune, Smith and safety Nick Stoner when the four decided to go swimming. McCune denied they had been drinking.

McCune described Griffith as non-responsive when he pulled him out. The sheriff’s report said Griffith’s CT scans were normal and spokeswoman Wendy Rose said Tuesday that his “signs are positive.”

Stoner, 21, is a wide receiver from the Indianapolis suburb of Greenwood. Smith, a 19-year-old safety, is a redshirt freshman from Bloomington.

A statement released by Indiana asked fans to keep Griffith in their thoughts. Griffith played at Homestead High School near Fort Wayne. His father, Shannon Griffith, is football coach at Manchester University in northeastern Indiana.

Elsewhere

Florida: Coming off their first losing season since 1979, the Gators have a new offensive coordinator, a new offensive line coach and plenty of room for improvement after finishing 113th in the nation in total offense.

So all eyes will be on that side of the ball when Florida takes the field Wednesday in Gainesville, for the first of 15 spring practices. The Gators will hold their annual spring game April 12.

The Gators were decimated by injuries last year, losing quarterback Jeff Driskel, running back Matt Jones, receiver Andre Debose and right tackle Chaz Green either before the season or early in the season.

Driskel broke his right leg against Tennessee in September, but has been cleared to practice. Jones tore the meniscus in his left knee and needed two surgeries to fully repair the damage. He won’t be cleared until early May, so he will miss all of spring. Debose (knee) will be cleared for non-contact later this month, and Green (torn labrum) will be full go for Wednesday’s practice.

South Carolina: Linebacker Kaiwan Lewis and safety Sharod Golightly are both limited for spring workouts after they had arthroscopic knee surgery during the offseason.

Both starters are expected to recover well before the start of fall camp. The two players had the procedures on their left knees.

Lewis, a junior next fall, played 12 games, starting 10 of them last season. He had two interceptions and was the Gamecocks third-leading tackler with 54 stops.

Golightly, who’s a senior, played in 13 games and had 47 tackles, sixth on South Carolina.

The Gamecocks resumed spring workouts on Tuesday. They conclude practices with the Garnet & Black Spring Game on April 12th.

The Gamecocks added a fourth practice session this week, one where several Gamecock players who went on to the NFL are expected to attend.

The school said Tuesday it had scheduled a football practice Saturday morning at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. Coach Steve Spurrier’s football team was previously scheduled to work out Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

The team’s opening of spring practice on March 4 was postponed because of poor weather. The Gamecocks began workouts two days later, but continued bad conditions moved them to their indoor practice facility.

College football teams can have 15 spring practice workouts. The Gamecocks will conclude their practice with the annual spring game on April 12th.

The school said ex-players in the NFL have been invited back this weekend to attend practices.

Tennessee: Former star player and coach Johnny Majors was released from the hospital nearly two weeks after undergoing a heart valve procedure.

In a statement released by the University of Tennessee Medical Center, Majors thanked his doctors, nurses and support staff and said that “I look forward to getting out and about.” Majors had been in the hospital since undergoing the procedure on March 6.

Hospital officials said the 78-year-old Majors will continue recovering at his Knoxville home.

Majors played at Tennessee from 1954-56, finishing second in Heisman Trophy voting as a senior. He went 185-137-10 as a coach at Iowa State (1968-72), Pittsburgh (1973-76, 1993-96) and Tennessee (1977-92), leading Pittsburgh to the 1976 national title. He entered the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

Wisconsin: A University of Wisconsin football recruit was charged Monday with the sexual assault of a woman in her dorm room on the Madison campus in December.

Dominic Cizauskas, 18, a linebacker from Mukwonago, was charged in Dane County with third-degree sexual assault, a felony.

According to the complaint, Cizauskas allegedly showed up at the woman’s dorm drunk on Dec. 14, undressed her and sexually assaulted her after the two had exchanged text messages.

Cizauskas appeared in court Monday and was released on a signature bond, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Cizauskas was ordered not to have any contact with the woman or to be anywhere on the Madison campus. He’s due back in court March 31.

Cizauskas was committed to attend Wisconsin last June but did not sign a letter of intent in February. Wisconsin Athletic Department spokesman Brian Lucas said that Cizauskas has not signed a letter of intent he is still a prospective student-athlete, meaning the university is not allowed to comment on his recruitment under NCAA rules.

According to the criminal complaint, the woman told police that Cizauskas was visiting UW-Madison Dec. 13-15. She had been in contact with him by text message, and about 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 14 he sent her a racy message suggesting he come visit. The woman told police she was studying for a final exam that night and tried to dissuade Cizauskas from coming over.

Surveillance video showed him arriving at the dorm shortly before 1 a.m. The woman said Cizauskas walked into her unlocked room after she heard him in the hall asking for directions.

“I tried to make excuses trying to get him to leave,” the woman told police, adding that she told him “no” several times. “I didn’t know what to do. I was by myself, my roommate went home for the weekend and he’s a 200-pound football player and he had been drinking.”

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