ATHENS, Ga. — Failed drug tests administered last week were the reason Georgia’s leading rusher, Isaiah Crowell, and two other Georgia tailbacks were suspended for Saturday’s game against New Mexico State, according to two people familiar with the results.
The tests were administered last Wednesday night and the results were confirmed Tuesday.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because Georgia does not release the results of the tests.
According to athletic association policy, student-athletes are suspended for 10 percent of their competitions for first-time violations of the drug tests.
Crowell, a freshman, leads Georgia with 689 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Tailbacks Ken Malcome and Carlton Thomas also were suspended Tuesday for what was announced as violations of team policy.
Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity sharply denied the suggestion the suspensions were delayed until after the Bulldogs’ win over Florida last week.
“We don’t play games around here,” McGarity told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The suspensions were announced Tuesday, shortly after coach Mark Richt said Richard Samuel had surgery on his left ankle and could miss the remainder of the regular season.
Samuel, a junior, had 17 carries for 58 yards and the winning fourth-quarter touchdown in No. 18 Georgia’s 24-20 win over Florida last week.
Samuel injured his ankle while running 9 yards to the Florida 1 on the final play of the game.
The suspensions and Samuel’s injury leave Georgia severely short-handed for at least one week.
Richt said Wednesday that sophomore Brandon Harton, a former walk-on, is the leading candidate to start against New Mexico State.
Harton has 11 carries for 33 yards, all against Coastal Carolina.
Richt said freshman walk-on tailback Kyle Karempelis also could play. Richt suggested Georgia might line up with two tight ends and no tailbacks in the game.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said other options to carry the ball include backup fullback Alexander Ogletree and freshman defensive backs Nick Marshall and Damian Swann.
Crowell was a much-publicized signee from Carver High School in Columbus. Carver coach Dell McGee said Wednesday he exchanged text messages with Crowell after the suspension was announced.
McGee said Crowell had no history of drug problems at Carver.