Outside of the greed, the NCAA has seen too many scandals in recent years. In 2011 alone, the NCAA saw Ohio State football violate numerous rules about players receiving improper benefits, former and current Penn State coaches and administrators caught in a web of child molestation charges, and Syracuse basketball caught in a child molestation case that occurred on a Syracuse road trip. In light of all of these incidents, it is no surprise that many people have lost faith in the NCAA- administrators, coaches, and athletes. Then along comes a story like that of Mark Richt, head football coach at the University of Georgia, that restores one’s faith in the people involved in the NCAA but, at the same time, shakes your trust in the NCAA and its regulations.
Richt had paid members of his staff from his own pocket. Yes, you read that correctly. Mark Richt violated NCAA rules by paying his staffers with his own money. It is one of the most ridiculous violations I have ever heard. In 2008, he personally paid $15,337.50 to the former tight end coach Dave Johnson because Johnson had accepted a job at West Virginia and just missed his five year longevity bonus.
In 2009, John Jancek, a defensive coach at Georgia, turned down an opportunity to coach elsewhere in order to stay on Richt’s staff. The former university administration denied a pay raise to Jancek for staying. Seeing how Jancek was disrespected, Richt paid him $10,000 out of his own income. It doesn’t end here.
In 2010, the university docked John Eason’s salary when he stepped down from an assistant coach position to a player development position. Richt paid Eason $6,150 to help compensate Eason when the school would not. In 2010, Richt also paid John Fabris, defensive end coach, $6,000 when his Georgia severance ended and he could not find work.
At the time of the payments, Richt and the University of Georgia did not know that the payments were in violation of any NCAA regulations. The payments were in violation of NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199 which prohibits supplemental pay.
The rule makes sense but it was not intended to stop people like Mark Richt. The NCAA only required Richt and the University of Georgia to issue letters of admonishment. Not even a slap on the wrist but the “guilt” of Richt brings this story to the forefront. Nowadays stories from the sports world that warm your heart are few and far between. Mark Richt shows why people can restore their faith in humanity. Richt is a man who is compensated well for what he does and he is aware of it. There are far too many people in this world who are not compensated enough for all of the hard work that they do. Richt has been extremely successful in his eleven years at Georgia and is fully aware that it was not entirely his doing. He is loyal to his coaches and non-football staff members. The fact that a head football coach realizes that people are not being treated properly and opts to, instead of going to the press about the injustices of his employer, take money from his own pocket and compensate the people himself. Talk about taking matters into his own hands.
Richt represents the opposite side of greed and scandal that has been hamstringing the NCAA for years. It is difficult, whether you are a Georgia fan or not, to not root for Mark Richt. Especially around the holidays, we can all learn something from Mark Richt’s generosity.