ATLANTA - What had already been a bad off-season for the state's two Division I-A football teams got worse Thursday.
One day after nine Georgia players were suspended for selling their Southeastern Conference championship rings and four others shelved for breaking unspecified team rules, archrival Georgia Tech declared 10 football players academically ineligible for the fall, including two standouts: senior tailback Tony Hollings and junior defensive end Tony Hargrove.
Hollings led the nation in rushing and scoring before tearing ligaments in his knee last season. He was supposed to return in the fall and make a major contribution to the offense.
Hargrove made 49 tackles, including 13 for lossand four sacks last year. He was one of the team's most promising defenders, an athletic, relentless pass rusher.
Reserves Anthony Lawston, Kingi McNair and Michael Sampson are also academically ineligible, but the school refused to release the names of the other five players citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
The law protects the privacy of students' educational records and since the other players did not grant Tech permission to release their names, the school can't. The other players include one starter and four backups.
"This is a very unfortunate situation for these young people and for Georgia Tech, but it is an aberration," Tech athletics director Dave Braine said in a statement.
The academic casualties come on the heels of two demoralizing season-ending losses. Following a 51-7 loss to Georgia - after which coach Chan Gailey openly questioned his team's effort - and a mistake-filled 30-21 loss to Fresno State in the Silicon Valley Football Classic, Braine wrote a letter to season ticket holders urging patience with first-year coach Gailey.
Tech finished 7-6 in Gailey's first season.
"I'm disappointed for these young men. I hope that they will work toward continuing their education, and we will do everything we can to help them," Gailey said.