COVINGTON, Ga. - A Georgia state senator accused a high school football player of "mocking the system" by transferring back to his original school one semester after winning a state championship with a different school.
Kurt Taylor was one of several blue chip college prospects who transferred to Grayson High School for their senior year, openly admitting their main goal was to play for a powerhouse football team. Taylor already had a scholarship offer from Michigan after playing tailback for three years at Newton High School in Covington.
But after helping Grayson win a state championship in December, Taylor transferred right back to Newton High School for his final semester. He may not have broken the rules, but critics say it's the rules themselves that need to be fixed.
"I think it's disappointing that you're mocking the system," charged state senator Bruce Thompson.
According to records, Taylor's father rented an apartment in the Grayson district of Gwinnett County last year. But he continued to own the Covington house in which his son grew up.
Looking at the player's tweets, it's clear Kurt Taylor considered that house his home, especially when Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh dropped by.
January 26 of this year -- "I want to thank Coach Harbaugh for flying in today on a private plane to Covington Georgia for a home visit..." with the two sitting on his bed.
The same day -- "hanging out in my back yard with Coach Harbaugh."
Taylor even had a picture of his father with the coach "sitting at the bar in my House in Covington, Georgia."
We showed the tweets to state senator Thompson, a critic of how the Georgia High School Association has enforced certain rules. I pointed out the obvious.
"It appears that he transferred to Grayson High School for one semester, played football, won a state championship and is now back at his old school."
"That's right," Thompson agreed. "We'll seek to try to prevent that in the future. I think it's unfair to the schools. I think it's unfair to other athletes. And it's unfair to the people that play by the rules that were set in place by the Georgia High School Association."
But as long as Taylor really did live in that Grayson apartment -- and not just on paper -- GHSA rules allow for that sort of transfer. And since his high school football career was finished, Taylor could transfer back to Newton County and graduate without any penalty.
Taylor's father did not respond to our repeated requests for comment. But last December his son tweeted a picture of his dad, "he made a huge sacrifice for me to Transfer to Grayson. Now we are Champions."
Senator Thompson wants to see future transfers required to sit out one year of athletic competition unless they can prove true hardship.
His goal: prevent future players from doing what Taylor and his dad just did.
"There's a significant problem with that," Thompson stressed. "And there should be a penalty for that. I don't know what that is, but there should be a penalty."
"Well, Grayson has a state championship," I pointed out.
"Then that's not a penalty."
The one-year transfer freeze idea could soon get more support at GHSA. Frustrated by a growing number of complaints, Thompson originally proposed replacing the non-profit GHSA with a commission appointed by lawmakers.
But GHSA executive director Gary Phillips agreed to retire, and Thompson agreed to drop his proposal.
"Was Gary Phillips the problem?" I asked.
"I think Gary was in a unique situation," Thompson answered. "I think in some ways Gary brought on a lot of problems himself."
Phillips himself challenged his critics, saying in a statement "the overall experience of Georgia's student-athletes is not served by turning a blind-eye to the issues of athlete recruitment and eligibility-related fraud. The student-athlete experience is not served by pandering politicians..."
Thompson says he only wants to make sure the rules are the same for every player, especially those who show up only to win a championship.
"They're looking at the system and saying I challenge you to do anything about this. Well, that challenge has been accepted."
Here is the full statement from GHSA Executive Director Gary Phillips:
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