ATHENS -- A group of Georgia football fans took up a collection to pay for a Boise State player's father to fly from Baghdad to see his son play against the Bulldogs in Athens.
But the NCAA rule book got in the way.
Dan Miller, father of Broncos sophomore guard Tad Miller, is a retired police lieutenant who is training Iraqi police officers.
When Sam Hendrix of Signal Mountain, Tenn. -- "suthndawg" to his fellow Georgia fans on the Dawgvent, an Internet message board -- read a story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the Millers, he started an online movement to raise the $2,700 it will cost Dad to make it to Sanford Stadium to see his son play in the home opener Sept. 3.
"Within moments of suthndawg's post, there were 25 to 50 people who offered to pledge money," said Ryan Crowe, a 25-year-old legal assistant from Atlanta who offered to collect and distribute the funds. "It just took off from there."
But when Crowe checked with the two schools, he was told the UGA fans' generosity would be a violation of NCAA bylaws regarding extra benefits and expenses for student athletes and their families.
"Ironically, by providing this money, these [Georgia] fans would in effect become Boise State boosters," said Amy Chisholm, UGA's assistant athletics director for compliance. The NCAA defines a booster as "a representative of an institution's athletics interests."
Wait, so Tennessee's Tee Martin can accept $4,500 for "car repairs" from Dianne Sanford because she "wasn't considered a booster," but a bunch of big-hearted Georgia fans can't pay for a player's dad to come home from Iraq and watch his son play for the opposing team?!? Funny how when Tee Martin came into all that cash, the definition of booster was "someone who has supported the school in the past," but when some Dawg fans want to pay Dan Miller's way home from Baghdad, all of a sudden now the definition is "anyone who gives any money to anybody."
OK, I'm getting ranty and negative here, and I promised myself I wouldn't do that. The point is, Georgia fans are awesome. (Oh, and Tennessee sucks, but that's secondary.) Any questions?