September 30, I received an email. That email, with name and number redacted:
I have video of Todd Gurley doing a private autograph signing ***. He has been paid thousands of dollars for his stuff over the last 18 months. I personally paid him for this signing on the video. I have bought and sold game used equipment from him.
I want no compensation. Just want someone to leak this story that's deserving. If you have any interest, give me a call or email. I attached a photo of him in my car signing a mini helmet that I just sold last week on my eBay store.
All I ask is some privacy until we can touch base.
I live on Georgia and would crucified if my name was released.
The video is about 5 minutes long but doesn't show the money exchange.
My cell is **********
I believe this would be the lead story on sports center if ESPN got their hands on this. Hope to hear from you soon.
The photo shows an African-American man with dreadlocks signing a red item while sitting in a car. His face is not visible. There is no way of telling whether it is Gurley or not.
What We Know Now
What We Know Now
After verifying a.) the tipster's identity, and b.) that this person has sold Gurley-autographed gear on eBay under the name provided, we let it drop, because the purpose of this website is not to enforce the NCAA's insane bylaws. On the contrary, we're all for players making money, and are thus editorially supportive of those bylaws' erosion.
So we let it drop. That was September 30.
October 9, Georgia suspended Gurley for a violation of the rules of amateurism, specifically "an ongoing investigation into an alleged violation of NCAA rules." Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports reported one source suggested the violation concerned "whether Gurley accepted extra benefits for his likeness with memorabilia brokers."
SB Nation's Steven Godfrey called the emailer. Once Godfrey identified himself and confirmed the caller's name as matching the one provided in the email, the caller said the following:
"I know why you're calling. I'm sorry, I can't talk right now. I know why you're calling me, and it's because he just got suspended. Gurley got suspended," the person said, without being asked anything other than his or her name.
The person who answered the phone did confirm residence in the state of Georgia.
"I've got like, 25 more people calling me right now about this. I can't talk right now. I can't say anything."
The person then hung up.
When contacted again, the individual refused to meet, denied sending the email, and denied any responsibility for Gurley's suspension.
We don't know who provided allegations of rule-breaking to Georgia (a request for further comment from UGA was not returned). We do know this, though: at least one memorabilia dealer pitched this story about Gurley selling his name for money. We know that dealer peddled it to multiple outlets, and that the language used in SI's article confirming the story from UGA's end sounds a lot like the language in the email we got:
The person claimed to have a photo and video of Gurley signing the items, but neither the photo nor the video showed money changing hands.
We know that someone on the internet really, really wanted everyone to know that Todd Gurley was allegedly breaking the NCAA's rules. And now, over the gigantic princely sum of $400 in allegedly sold signatures, everyone does.