The Signal has been reporting on Georgia State alumnus and top donor Parker H. Petit’s criminal activity and investigation since 2018.
Read the related articles found at georgiastatesignal.com for a chronological recap of the investigation’s timeline.
Marc Cohodes, a notorious short-seller who helped shine a light on Georgia State alumnus and top donor Parker H. Petit’s criminal activity, is now calling to remove Petit’s name from Georgia State’s football field.
In an interview with The Signal, Cohodes announced he is willing to donate $100,000 to the university to begin the discussion. He wants the University System of Georgia to rename the football field after the whistleblowers who brought Petit to justice.
Today, the state of New York will sentence Petit following his Nov. 19 conviction. In January, he paid $750,000 to a lobbying firm to secure a presidential pardon from former President Donald Trump before he left office. However, the attempt was unsuccessful.
The 81-year-old former chief executive officer of the biopharmaceutical company MiMedx, pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud a year after employees came forward about the illegal activity. The charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
In an additional civil suit, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused MiMedx and Petit of inflating the company’s stocks using “channel stuffing.” Channel stuffing is the act of inflating sales and earnings by sending retailers more product than is in actual demand, leaving the retailer with a surplus of product. Petit gifted $5 million worth of the potentially fraudulent stocks to Georgia State in 2018. The case ended in a $1.5 million settlement paid to the SEC.
The attempt to inflate MiMedx’s revenue didn’t go unnoticed by Cohodes. According to The Wall Street Journal, Petit complained to former senator Johnny Isakson about Cohodes before Petit’s criminal investigation. Later, Cohodes received a visit from two FBI agents telling him to stop tweeting about Petit or “there would be consequences.”
“Georgia State is an institution that teaches young people how to get through life, and having a convicted criminal’s name on the football field is a disgrace,” Cohodes said. “And as much as they would like to sweep it under the rug, I’m showing up with a significant donation to rename the field ‘Whistleblower Field’ in honor of the brave MiMedx employees who turned this criminal in.”
Cohodes is neither a Georgia State alumnus nor a Georgia resident. Nevertheless, he disagrees with the message it sends to students if the name stays on the field.
“I have no affiliation with the school. But I cannot stand this. So I’m showing up with $100,000,” he said. “It sets a bad example to the students. It sets a bad example to the community. And it sends the message that crime pays, and crime shouldn’t pay.”
Cohodes challenges others to pitch in and add on to the donation to encourage the beginning of a discussion.
Although Petit was convicted and his sentencing is today, there hasn’t been a discussion to rename the field.
The power to rename structures within the USG lies solely in the hands of the chancellor, the USG chief administrative officer and the Board of Regents, according to policy 7.4.1 of the Board of Regents Policy Manual.
“All proposed namings shall be submitted to the USG Chief Administrative Officer who shall distribute the proposal for integrated review and, in conjunction with the Chancellor, submit the request to the Board of Regents for approval,” the policy states.
According to Andrea Jones, Georgia State’s associate vice president for Public Relations and Marketing Communications, the university has not approached the Board of Regents about renaming the field.
Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications Lance Wallace delivered an official response to The Signal, almost identical to the 2018 and 2019 statements.
“The Board is aware of Parker H. Petit’s securities fraud conviction in the Southern District of New York and will continue to closely monitor the situation,” the response states.
Wallace proceeded to share a piece of the 7.4.1 policy that states, “Namings authorized by the Board of Regents shall not be modified without approval of the Board. If a situation occurs that may warrant the removal of a name that was previously approved by the Board of Regents, the decision whether to remove the name lies in the sole discretion of the Board in consultation with the Chancellor.”
It is considered an honor for the USG to name something after an individual or organization because it usually follows a philanthropic act that displays kindness and selflessness to a community, a distinction now tarnished by Petit.
Cohodes said he is afraid that when people Google the name Parker H. Petit after seeing the name on the field, it will show that the school stands for and promotes criminality. Instead, he believes that if the field is renamed “Whistleblower Field,” people will see the story and know Georgia State stood with those that chose to do the right thing.
“They’ll say, ‘Hey, it’s a noble thing. Maybe I’ll go work for the FBI. Or maybe I’ll work in criminal fraud detection, or maybe I’ll teach an ethics class,’” Cohodes said.
Cohodes suggested that Georgia State use his donation to teach a business ethics class on how to do the right thing and avoid repeating Petit’s mistakes.
After further discussion, Cohodes decided to add to his initial offer.
“I’m friends with the lead singer of Collective Soul. And when the field is renamed, I will underwrite a Collective Soul concert for all of the students at Georgia State at the field,” he said. “Collective Soul will be there playing a free concert for the students at Georgia State.”