Originally created 07/20/02

Georgia loses recruiting class



ATLANTA -- Unless Wayne Arnold gets his high school diploma before classes start at Georgia on Aug. 19, all four of Jim Harrick's recruits for this year will have failed to meet qualifying standards.

Since Harrick took over coaching duties in 1999, nine players have failed to qualify to play for the Bulldogs after signing national letters of intent.

Arnold had to complete two classes in summer school to get his high school diploma, but he exceeded the number of absences allowed in a social studies class and was automatically dropped, said David Boyd, Arnold's coach at Berkmar High School.

The team won state championships during Arnold's sophomore and junior years.

"The thing that's so unreal is he did the work," Boyd said. "In summer school, you have to meet in class a certain number of hours or you won't get credit. They're very strict with that. There's no ifs, ands or buts. It's cut and dried."

The three other Georgia signees - centers Julius Lamptey of Oklahoma City and Larry Turner of Milledgeville and forward Alexander Johnson of Albany - were already ruled ineligible to play. Turner was denied admission because of a questionable score on his ACT test, and he has since enrolled at Oklahoma. Lamptey and Turner have enrolled in prep schools.

In Arnold's case, he was allowed up to three absences without being dropped. He had 2 1/2 absences after last week and he traveled out of town during the weekend, Boyd said. Arnold was late to class Monday, which counted as half an absence, which caused him to be dropped. He had an 'A' average, Boyd said.

He said Arnold is working on a makeup class to get equivalent credit for the social studies course so he could enroll at Georgia in fall.

"They tell me he is going to get it done, but I don't know," Harrick told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an article Friday. "You've just got to wait and see. It's unbelievable."

Harrick was in California on Friday and unavailable for additional comment.

Arnold, a 6-foot-5 guard, averaged 24 points and 4.5 assists last season.

Arnold, whose mother died of cancer Dec. 21, lives with an uncle and couldn't be reached for comment.

The fate of returning center Steve Thomas is still unknown. He's scheduled to stand trial in Athens next month on felony counts of attempted rape and aggravated assault. If Thomas doesn't return, Georgia would only have seven scholarship players back from last season, when they won the Southeastern Conference's East Division before losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament.