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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

UGA has paid under $40,000 to recruiting services since 2009

The Oregon football program is reportedly being investigated by the NCAA over payments to a recruiting service. While using such services is not a violation, the NCAA is looking into whether a company helped steer recruits to Oregon.

But the use itself of recruiting services, while largely unknown to the public, is not unusual. Georgia is one of the many college football programs that use them.

In response to an Open Records Act request, UGA released five payments to recruiting services since 2009, totaling $37,619 to three different companies:

- The biggest expenditures were to LRS Sports, Inc., a service based in Springfield Ill. LRS states on its web site that it “delivers detailed, up-to-date, state-by-state databases of available high school and junior college athletes in the Southeast.”

In an invoice dated Feb. 17, 2011, Georgia was billed $12,519 from LRS Sports. That invoice specifies that UGA purchased reports and video on players in five states in the South. And twice in 2009, the Bulldogs paid LRS a flat fee of $4,800 for recruiting services.

- In August of 2010, Georgia gave $11,000 to Bluechip Athletic Solutions, an Atlanta-based company.

- And also in August of 2010, Georgia paid $4,500 to Elite Scouting Services, which is based in Hollywood, Fla. According to its web site, Elite Scouting Services provides a database of high school players, game film of players and access to scouts.

There’s nothing secret about the associations.

Bluechip touts its association with a couple dozen schools, including Georgia. Bluechip, established in November 2005, says on its site that it “provides a unique blend of Marketing Strategy, Technology and Supporting services designed to help collegiate coaches showcase their program.”

Elite Scouting Services lists Georgia among its many clients, numbering 81 college football programs.

LRS’ web site has quotes from a number of clients, including UAB head coach Neil Callaway, the former Georgia offensive line coach.

Georgia’s total recruiting budget is $600,000, according to the athletics department.

UGA associate athletics director for communications Claude Felton said the following about the team's use of the services:

"The recruiting services we subscribe to provide an assortment of information including video of requested high school games and various kinds of data such as names, phone numbers, email addresses, and testing information."

Since the Oregon story was broken by Yahoo Sports, several other news outlets have delved into what schools spend on recruiting services. The Seattle Times reported that the Washington football program spent just under $40,000 over the past year to nine different services. And Oregon State spends about $40,000 on services, according to the Corvallis (Ore.) Gazette-Times.

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