Mark Richt weighs in on cheating in college athletics: ‘You just never know’

Mark Richt looks on during third quarter action against Toledo. (Getty Images)

CORAL GABLES — Mark Richt has been a college coach for more than 30 years, or, for nearly all his post-college life.

In his 17th season leading a major football program, Richt, 57, knows it is a never-ending fight to stay abreast of the rules.

He was aware of Tuesday’s news about a two-year FBI sting that exposed, to a never-before-seen degree, high-level pay-for-play in college basketball (and, UM confirmed later Wednesday, involves the Hurricanes).

Asked how the story reflects on college athletics, Richt said:

“I’m sure they know what they’re talking about. I doubt they’re making up stories. Bottom line is, if people aren’t behaving like they should, whether it’s players, whether it’s coaches, whether it’s business people or whatever it is, there needs to be consequences. If everybody makes good decisions to discipline things the way they should be and  there’s consequences for what happened, then things can get cleaned up rather quickly, I think. That’s just part of it.”

Richt said he believes there are more programs doing things right than wrong, though he admitted even his own has “mess[ed] up.”

Here’s what he said, when asked if the college game needs to be “cleaned up”:

“I’m sure it’s program-by-program. I don’t think every basketball program is doing things they shouldn’t do. I don’t think every football program is doing it. I think there’s a lot more doing things right than doing things wrong. You just read about these.”

He was then asked if Tuesday’s story was a reminder to be “cognizant of the rules.”

“For me personally, I say no, because that’s all we care about is doing it right,” he said. “Do we ever mess up? We mess up. And so yeah, should we be even more sharp in our rules and all that kind of thing? Yes. More heightened awareness? Yes. But we hope, and we think, we have a heightened awareness all the time.

“You just never know.”

Elsewhere, Louisville, known in the FBI report as “University-6,” effectively fired basketball coach Rick Pitino on Wednesday, and placed athletics director Tom Jurich on paid administrative leave. The school said it would soon name their interim replacements.

As of 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Miami, which is believed to be “University-7,” had only issued a statement saying it would comply with whatever law enforcement or the NCAA asks in the case. The lawyer for UM basketball coach Jim Larranaga said Tuesday that his client did nothing wrong.

Ten people have been indicted and four arrested in an ongoing FBI investigation. The report the FBI released Tuesday did not name the University of Miami, Larranaga, his assistants or staff members. However, UM fits the profile of one school cited in the report.

In one of the situations the FBI uncovered, that school’s assistant coach allegedly conspired with an Adidas exec, a would-be agent, and a club team coach — all of whom were indicted, along with other profiteers — in an apparent attempt to steer some $150,000 to a recruit.

 

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