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Too bad the Georgia athletic department is not as accountable as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper suddenly is.
Like the Alabama basketball program, the Georgia football program continues to be overly defensive with a pungent air of privilege and denial. Both basically go by the credo: “Hey, if one of our players isn’t charged, they’re good.”
That’s regardless of how reckless or just plain stupid their activities may be.
Did Georgia’s Power Get AJC Reporter Alan Judd Fired?
The AJC, meanwhile, just fired solid, veteran, Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative reporter Alan Judd for what appears to be two minor mistakes in his story published June 27. The piece detailed the Georgia football program’s permissive culture and track record of its players allegedly abusing women.
If Georgia football was as strict as the AJC, Bulldogs’ coach Kirby Smart may not have as many of the off-field issues he has had to deal with during his tenure.
Meanwhile, Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats steadfastly refused to suspend star player Brandon Miller all of last season for even one game or a practice for transporting a gun to a teammate. The gun was then used in a murder.
But, hey, Miller has never been charged.
AJC reporter Alan Judd, 63, has also not been charged with anything. So, if he was a basketball player at Alabama or a football player at Georgia, he might still be in good standing. But the AJC fired him.
Did The AJC Sacrifice Alan Judd For Georgia?
Or more accurately, the AJC sacrificed him. Maybe because the Georgia football program – back-to-back national champions – is such a powerful and popular lobby. Close to 100 percent of Georgia’s voracious fan base probably read the AJC voraciously, or used to do so. And now with Judd done away with, they may come back.
Judd also resigned from the Louisville Courier-Journal under pressure that he would get fired for much worse reporting in a story about high school football headlined “Hollow Victories.” Editors viewed his reporting as hollow in retrospect, but he was only 28 at the time. And it was 35 years ago. He resigned on Sept. 26, 1988.
Georgia football’s legal representation found out about this skeleton in Judd’s past. The AJC missed it when it hired him as it missed his mistaken reporting originally in the June 27 story.
Wow! If Georgia’s investigative team investigated its own football players and recruits as thoroughly and vehemently as it went after Judd, Smart may not have as many off-field issues.
“I am not commenting,” long time media and AJC lawyer Thomas M. Clyde of Atlanta told OutKick on Thursday. He represented the AJC and Judd in this matter after Georgia’s chief counsel Michael M. Raeber unleashed a nine-page letter asking for a complete retraction.
Corrected Version Of Georgia Story Very Similar To Original
The letter could have been one page. The AJC ignored most of Raeber’s ridiculous, exaggerated and overblown claims. The letter was much more over the top than anything Judd wrote in his story of question. Raeber wanted the entire story retracted – vaporized from the AJC website forever. That didn’t happen.
In fact, the corrected version of Judd’s story reads remarkably similar to the original.
After an altered headline and an editor’s note, the second paragraph remains. It says, “The school’s response to Jamaal Jarrett’s misadventures during a campus visit last year illustrate how its national champion football program has rallied to support athletes accused of abusing women, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows.”
So does this key paragraph: “The AJC has reported in detail how the team’s permissive culture has enabled dangerous behavior by its players: reckless driving, street racing, drunken driving and excessive speeding, among other offenses.”
The AJC editors and attorneys admitted to only two mistakes after studying the story for weeks.
The big one is in paragraph nine: “The exact number of accusations by women involving Georgia players is unknown. Some cases result in no police investigation, but rather are handled through a confidential campus disciplinary system.”
Kirby Smart’s ‘Presence’ In Courtroom Remains In AJC
Judd’s story originally said 11. Editors could not substantiate that number since Raeber’s letter arrived. They should have substantiated that number prior to the story publishing. That’s their job, and it was Rudd’s job.
Despite wordy objections from Raeber in his letter, the AJC didn’t budge on the part of the story that detailed how eight of Smart’s players happened to show up in court in Athens on Nov. 21, 2021. They showed for linebacker Adam Anderson’s bond hearing on felony rape charges. A female football office employee made the accusations.
This quote remains in the story: “Your honor,” Adam Anderson’s attorney Steve Sadow said after the players stood on his client’s behalf, “pursuant to my promise to Kirby Smart, may they be released to go back to team activities?”
So does this part: “The judge dismissed the players and went on with the hearing. The football players’ participation in the bond hearing suggests the university was taking the side of one student over another — Anderson, rather than his alleged victim, said Cari Simon, a lawyer in Denver who represents survivors of sexual assaults on college campuses across the nation.”
Simon’s quote also stayed. “Clearly, they’re getting involved to maintain his status as an athlete,” she said. “Does every student criminally charged with rape have the school intervene to try to not have consequences?”
The AJC left this in as well: “The athletic association’s statement denied that Smart “instructed or authorized” players to appear at Anderson’s bond hearing. The judge released Anderson on bond. Smart suspended Anderson from the team, and he never played another game. Anderson faces a second rape charge in Oconee County and has pleaded not guilty in both cases. After Anderson’s release, the accuser quit her job with the football program.”
A comment from Anderson’s alleged victim remains: “A lot of the people I worked with were in the courtroom to support the person who abused me,” she said. They included Bryant Gantt (Georgia’s director of player support), who she had to walk past to leave the courtroom after the bond hearing. “He was staring at me, smiling,” she said. “It was really weird, like he was trying to intimidate me.”
‘My Beloved Bulldogs’ Still In AJC Story
Also included in the story is the depiction of an Athens Police detective referring to “my beloved Bulldogs” while questioning a visiting prospect about a possible sexual assault. A “remarkably friendly interrogation” is how Judd described it.
The only other correction was a very technical one concerning a quote in which Judd combined two sentences said by a police detective several minutes apart.
The detective’s quote to Jarrett in the original story reads, “I’m looking out for you. No matter how this plays out, I think there’s a lot you can learn from it.”
According to Raeber, the detective said, “I’m looking out for you,” six minutes before he made the other comment used. That was, “And I’m not trying to overstep my role or get in your personal business, but no matter how this plays out, I think there’s a lot you can learn from it.”
Oh my God! Tar and feather, Mr. Judd. He didn’t use the ellipses dots in between quotes said at slightly different times! The AJC changed this quote and part to:
“I’m kinda looking out for you,” the detective told Jarrett. At a later point in the interview, Schmidt said, “No matter how this plays out, I think there’s a lot you can learn from it. You can talk more to Coach Gantt about it, because it’s not his first time navigating this.”
A very minor change, to say the least.
“Connecting the sentences did not change the meaning of the quote (in the original story),” an AJC statement said Wednesday. “But the way it was presented to readers failed to meet AJC standards.”
That’s quite a standard, much more than there is apparently at Georgia.
But is that all you got? And you fired this guy?
You kept most of the story. Perhaps you should have kept the reporter as well.
But no, the AJC fired Alan Judd for its own self-preservation amid an extremely powerful and popular entity known as Georgia football.
Georgia football and all that goes with it – its coaches, its players, its athletic department, its legal counsel, its fans and its boosters – are also likely extremely spoiled.
Judd’s story and stories about Georgia came about because of a car crash on Jan. 15 that killed a player and a staff employee and badly injured another staff member. What led to that crash, why it happened and its aftermath make up the most significant and longest lasting controversy around the Georgia football program since the 1980s. And that’s not over. There are other investigative reporters still at the AJC – very good ones.
Over this span, Georgia people got used to the more pleasant coverage. And many of those close to Georgia football like Smart and Raeber just can’t handle the rare, rough reporting. They’re spoiled. They grew accustomed to the much nicer usual stories from various media outlets – the smaller ones and, yes, the larger ones. This is true at many major college football programs, particularly in the SEC. They strut a lot of content power over the content outlets.
And Georgia’s power and privilege got somebody fired who should’ve just been suspended.