Originally created 12/15/01

Background checks not a given

At Georgia, background checks for high-profile coaches are about as common as an empty Sanford Stadium on fall Saturdays.

Bulldogs athletics director Vince Dooley said he seldom casts a glance at resumes of prospective hires, let alone conducts extensive background reviews.

"For the most part, when we're dealing with football coaches or basketball coaches or whatever, we pretty well know the individual," Dooley said Friday.

Dooley spoke a few hours after learning of George O'Leary's resignation at Notre Dame. O'Leary, who resigned from Georgia Tech on Sunday after accepting the position as head coach of the Fighting Irish, claimed on his resume to have a master's degree in education and to have played football for three years. Background checks proved both claims to be false.

Dooley said he isn't sure how he would react if similar revelations came to light at Georgia.

"I don't know if it could be handled any other way than the way they handled it at Notre Dame," he said.

Beyond checking with the NCAA or talking with colleagues, Dooley said he seldom checks a prospective coach's background. Typically - particularly when filling jobs like football coach or basketball coach - Dooley knows the coach well enough to avoid standard background checks.

After Friday's developments, Dooley said he'll "have to be a little more diligent" in the future.

O'Leary's resume said the 55-year-old lettered in football for three years while at the University of New Hampshire in the late 1960s and had earned a master's degree in education from New York University in 1972.

Jeremy Foley, athletics director at Florida, said he has seldom looked deeply enough to reveal such fabrications.

"I've hired a bunch of coaches," said Foley, who became the Gators' athletics director in 1992. "I know that I've never called an institution to see if someone has gotten a degree."

Like Dooley, Foley said the extent of his research typically involves talking with friends and checking with the NCAA for red flags.

"I have never verified anything," he said. "But will I in the future? Yes."

Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645.


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