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NCAA denies Georgia appeal, Todd Gurley to return vs. Auburn

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Give the NCAA credit -- it's becoming savvier at public relations when it comes to news fans might dislike.

The organization confirmed in a release late Thursday night that Georgia running back Todd Gurley would not catch a break in his much publicized case and would sit out a full four games for accepting $3,000 from memorabilia dealers to autograph sports merchandise.

"The NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee has upheld the eligibility decision regarding University of Georgia's Todd Gurley," the short statement said. "He will be eligible to play Nov. 15."

"We are very disappointed in tonight's decision by the Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee regarding our appeal on Todd Gurley's eligibility reinstatement," UGA said in a statement Thursday. "We believe our case to the NCAA for Todd's immediate reinstatement was strong and compelling. However, we now have exhausted all available options and look forward to Todd's return to competition on November 15. The full attention of the Bulldog Nation now needs to be focused on our team and Saturday's important game against Florida."

The NCAA announced on Wednesday that Gurley must sit out two more games, for a total of four. As part of his reinstatement, the running back must also repay a portion of the money he received for the autographs to a charity and complete 40 hours of community service.

Georgia suspended the star running back prior to the team's win over Missouri when the allegations first surfaced. True freshman Nick Chubb replaced the then-Heisman Trophy favorite in the lineup for the Bulldogs and helped keep the team afloat with a pair of SEC wins.

Gurley still leads the team in rushing with 773 yards and has nine total touchdowns this season. The junior is widely considered to be the best back in the sport with the potential to be a first-round pick if he were to declare early for the 2015 NFL Draft.

"Looking at the tape, I would rank the Bulldogs' star as the top running back in college football. He displays a rare combination of speed, power and explosion that reminds me of a young Marshawn Lynch," NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks wrote earlier this month. "The suspension will not have a major impact on Gurley's draft stock. While scouts and executives will dig deep to uncover all of the details behind the suspension, it's not a criminal matter and most observers won't view it as a serious character concern."

Gurley will return for the team's matchup against Auburn in a game that should have plenty of College Football Playoff implications. Georgia still has to play Kentucky and Florida in SEC East action before then, but should be favored by a comfortable margin in both games.

Until then, Gurley will have to wait patiently for his time to come, but at least he now knows exactly when that will be.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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