SEC clears Alabama's Maurice Smith to transfer to Georgia

Alabama's Maurice Smith catches a pass during a team workout ahead of Saturday's Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game against Florida, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The Southeastern Conference on Friday granted a conditional release to Maurice Smith that will allow the former Alabama defensive back to transfer to Georgia to pursue a graduate degree.

Smith graduated from Alabama last Saturday and received his release from the university Wednesday.

"Graduate transfer rules were established with the intent to be grounded in the academic interests of the student-athlete," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a release. "This conditional waiver permits Maurice Smith to receive financial aid to pursue his stated academic goals at the school of his choice while connecting his athletic participation directly to those goals."

The 6-foot, 195-pound Smith never redshirted at Alabama, so he has the option of completing his athletic eligibility this season or next season. The Bulldogs open their 2017 season three weeks from today against North Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic.

According to the league release, Georgia requested the SEC make an exception to two SEC bylaws for Smith - one that requires incoming transfers to have at least two years of eligibility remaining, and another that requires student-athletes who transfer from one SEC institution to another to sit out a full academic year prior to competing.

"The standard for granting waivers has been clear and compelling evidence that there is reason for allowing an exception to SEC rules," Sankey said. "I found, among other contributing factors, that a student-athlete who graduates in three years and exhibits a strong commitment to his or her academic future provides compelling motivation to help them achieve their goals on and off the field."

Sankey added that Smith must enroll in the Master of Public Health graduate program and earn the necessary Academic Progress Rate points during each term of his enrollment. If Smith falls short in APR points, Georgia would not be able to use the graduate-student exemption in football until after the 2019-20 academic year.

Smith played in 41 career games for the Crimson Tide with 38 tackles and two tackles for loss. He made two career starts, with his first coming against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2013.

Home jerseys welcome

The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic announced Friday afternoon that both Georgia and North Carolina will wear their home jerseys at this year's game. Georgia and Florida both wear home jerseys during their annual meeting in Jacksonville, Fla.

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.