University of Georgia officials will apply to the NCAA on Wednesday for reinstatement of star running back Todd Gurley, who has been suspended indefinitely from the team since Oct. 9 for allegedly receiving money for signing autographs.
"Todd has confirmed his desire to seek reinstatement, and the university fully supports Todd's request," the university said in a statement issued Wednesday.
"The university hopes for and expects a prompt ruling by the NCAA so that Todd, his coaches, and teammates can adequately prepare for our next game."
Georgia officials are hoping that Gurley, a leading Heisman Trophy candidate before his suspension, can return for the Nov. 1 game against Florida in Jacksonville, according to people familiar with the investigation.
Coach Mark Richt said Wednesday he was "optimistic" for Gurley's eligibility to be reinstated in time for the game against Florida.
"I think we as an institution and Todd as a student-athlete did everything within the protocol of the governing body, the NCAA, so hopefully it all will end well and hopefully sooner than later,'' Richt said after Wednesday's practice.
In December 2010, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was declared ineligible by the school and was reinstated by the NCAA the next day. The NCAA concluded that a "violation of Newton's amateur status had occurred" because his father shopped his son to another school before signing with the Tigers. The NCAA reinstated Newton because it didn't believe he or Auburn officials knew of his father's actions.
Gurley, a junior from Tarboro, North Carolina, remains the SEC's leading rusher after gaining 773 yards and scoring eight touchdowns in Georgia's first five games.
"I want to thank the university, coaches, teammates, and the Bulldog Nation for their patience and support," Gurley said in the statement. "I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made, and I can't thank the University, my coaches, and teammates enough for supporting me throughout this process. I'm looking forward to getting back on the field with my teammates."
Earlier this month, ESPN.com reported that Bryan Allen, a memorabilia dealer from Rome, Georgia, had hired Atlanta attorney Ed Garland because of Allen's relationship with Gurley.
In the weeks before Gurley was suspended, Allen sent emails to several news outlets, claiming he'd paid Gurley "thousands of dollars" over the previous 18 months to autograph large quantities of footballs, helmets, photos and other memorabilia.
"Todd has taken responsibility for his actions and is ready to rejoin his teammates," Gurley's attorney, William King of the firm Lightfoot, Franklin & White of Birmingham, Alabama, said in the statement. "The university has been great throughout the past two weeks and has done everything it can to support Todd."
In Gurley's absence, freshman Nick Chubb has started at running back and has rushed for 345 yards and three touchdowns while leading the No. 9 Bulldogs to road victories at Missouri and Arkansas.
Gurley has continued to practice with Georgia during the suspension. Richt said his game plan for Florida won't change whether Gurley plays or not but added that Gurley's role in practice would change next week if he were cleared by the NCAA.
"This week for us is a little bit like spring ball or like camp in that we really re-emphasize fundamentals and don't do an awful lot of things scheme-wise," Richt said. "The repetitions for who we think are going to play really doesn't go into play as much this week as it would next week when you're inserting the plan and trying to get a lot of repetitions with the guys who are going to play."
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.