ATHENS, Ga. -- Questions about the status of Georgia defensive end James DeLoach and defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor for the season-opening game against Clemson won’t linger into the summer.
The players won’t face any game suspension, Georgia announced Thursday hours after DeLoach and Taylor were accepted into a pre-trial intervention program for their March arrests for theft by deception.
Recently dismissed safety Tray Matthews and former Bulldogs receiver Uriah LeMay also made brief appearances in Clarke County State Court in Athens Thursday afternoon and will go into the pre-trial intervention program that upon completion will result in the dropping of charges for all four athletes.
State Court Judge Ethelyn Simpson informed them one by one about details of the program. She told them they will not be on probation but will be supervised by a probation officer.
The four players were charged with “double-dipping” student stipend checks issued by the University of Georgia Athletic Association by cashing or depositing the funds twice.
The checks were each $71.50. Georgia issues checks for athletes for about that amount each as part of their five-day meal plan and Matthews said earlier Thursday the check was intended for food. The total value of the 11 checks in question used by the four players was $786.50.
The charges were misdemeanors. Matthews was charged with three counts, DeLoach and Taylor two each and LeMay four.
Georgia said in a release that DeLoach and Taylor “have and will face significant additional internal discipline from both the UGA Athletic Association and the football program.”
The players were not ordered to make restitution because they have already paid the money back, according to Athens-Clarke Solicitor General C.R. Chisholm.
Under terms of the pre-trial program, LeMay is to serve 80 hours of community service and pay a $400 program fee. Matthews got 60 hours of community service and a $300 fine and DeLoach and Taylor 40 hours of community service and a $300 fine. Each also must pay a monthly supervision fee of $40 during the 12 months.
Any theft-related offense with no prior arrest history is typically eligible for pre-trial intervention, Chisholm said. The players are under the supervision of the Clarke County probation office for 12 months and any other arrest or citation for a new offense would violate terms of the program. They are not to drink or consume alcohol or go to any bar or night club.
Matthews. Tayor and DeLoach were said to have deposited checks on a mobile baking app and then cashed the same check at a convenience store. LeMay is alleged to have taken discarded checks already cashed by a roommate who was an athlete and presented it to be cashed.
LeMay, who has transferred to Charlotte, was accompanied by his father.
DeLoach and Taylor, teammates at Jenkins County High in Millen, stood in the hallway together beforehand. DeLoach is a candidate to start at defensive end. Taylor is a redshirt sophomore.
Matthews, a rising sophomore who started six games last season, was booted from the team this week after disrupting a class.
DeLoach and Matthews declined comment as they walked to an elevator afterwards. The players were joined by family and UGA staff member Bryant Gantt, who has a background as a legal assistant.
Earlier in the day by phone, Matthews spoke about the incident in an English literature class that led to his dismissal.
“I didn’t do anything really, though,” Matthews said. “The only thing I did was talking to my classmate besides me and we got into a little argument. It was two guys arguing about a sport (about some players). That’s what it was. Me and another athlete were arguing about a sport. It was kind of loud. It wasn’t even that loud, but a professor was talking while we were talking. That’s disrespectful of course. But nobody was disrespectful to him at all.”
Matthews said Auburn, Louisville, Alabama and Florida are schools he’s involved with as a possible transfer destination.