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SEC allows Maurice Smith to transfer from Alabama to Georgia

Former Alabama cornerback Maurice Smith's transfer saga is over. He'll be allowed to transfer to Georgia, the SEC announced Friday.

The SEC granted a conditional waiver for Smith to transfer to Georgia for the 2016 season after a battle with his former team that lasted nearly two months.

SEC bylaws typically require that a graduate transfer have two years of eligibility to transfer to an SEC school and also require a player transferring from one SEC school to another to sit out a year. Neither will be the case for Smith, who has one year of eligibility remaining and will be allowed to join the Bulldogs immediately.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Smith earned the exceptions by graduating from Alabama in three years.

"The standard for granting waivers has been clear and compelling evidence that there is reason for allowing an exception to SEC rules," Sankey said in a statement. "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 also said Smith "has clearly and passionately stated his desire for a graduate degree in Public Health."

Smith had asked Alabama in June for permission to contact other schools with intentions to transfer.

Smith wanted to follow new Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, his former defensive coordinator at Alabama. When Smith originally met with Alabama coach Nick Saban in June regarding the matter, Saban told Smith that he would not release him to an SEC school, according to a letter Smith wrote to the Alabama appeals committee and obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Smith later claimed that his locker was cleared out, all his personal belongings were thrown in the trash and he wasn't allowed to enter the Tide's football facilities.

Saban said on Aug. 4 that "we support the SEC rule of not granting guys' releases to go to other SEC schools. It has been our policy here not to do that unless there was a special circumstance."

On Wednesday, however, Saban changed that stance and granted Smith a full, unconditional release -- leaving the decision in the hands of the SEC.

Smart thanked the SEC "for granting the waiver, which will allow Maurice Smith to pursue his dreams at the University of Georgia as a graduate transfer."

"This has been a difficult situation to navigate, and we are grateful to all who have been involved in bringing it to a resolution," Smart said in a statement released by Georgia on Friday night. "Now that it is behind us, we are all anxious to move forward."

Smith recorded 15 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble and had one fumble recovery in 15 games as the nickelback for the Crimson Tide. He ended spring football in Alabama's starting secondary rotation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.