Originally created 03/03/03

Georgia still reeling from accusations by former player



ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia coach Jim Harrick didn't blame the Bulldogs' latest loss on the turmoil surrounding his team.

"I don't think that what's happened in the last couple of days had anything to do with this game," Harrick said after Georgia lost to No. Kentucky 74-66 on Sunday. It was the only statement Harrick made regarding the controversy.

The No. 21 Bulldogs were playing their first game without assistant coach Jim Harrick Jr., the son of the head coach, who was suspended Friday after a former player accused him of paying part of his expenses and committing academic fraud.

The player, Tony Cole, also told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he used the personal credit card of the older Harrick to buy a TV while he was enrolled in school.

Earlier in the day, Harrick told CBS Sports that Cole was "a very bitter young man."

"What I found after working with him for six months, he is very revengeful of things that everyone had ever done for him," Harrick said.

Athletic director Vince Dooley said the school is investigating the charges, along with the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA.

Cole played 16 games with the Bulldogs in the 2001-2002 season, but was kicked off the team after being charged with aggravated assault with intent to rape. The charge was later dismissed.

Georgia players tried to dismiss Cole's importance on the game, but students and fans clearly showed Cole was on their mind. Several signs being held by the sold-out crowd at Stegeman Coliseum were confiscated.

Georgia guard Jarvis Hayes said he hasn't read the newspaper during the past few days to avoid the controversy, and teammate Ezra Williams had to turn off his cell phone. Among Cole's other charges during an interview with The Journal-Constitution was that current players have been given improper benefits from booster Mike Young.

Cole said he received $900 from Young, including a $300 shopping spree at a mall.

"That's crazy," Williams said. "Tony Cole, I don't know why he's doing this, personally. I think it's a publicity stunt. He found some people that will listen to him and put him on TV, and he's taking advantage of it."

When asked if school officials had approached him about the investigation, Hayes shook his head.

"We're just playing basketball, just focusing on basketball," he said.

It's not the first time the Harricks have faced charges of improprieties.

In 1996, UCLA fired the elder Harrick, who won a national title there, for lying about an expense report. Last season, Harrick Jr. admitted that his school-issued biography exaggerated his playing career and academic honors.

The bio said he had played on two Pepperdine teams that made the NCAA tournament and was twice a member of the West Coast Academic All-Conference Team. He later said he made one NCAA tournament appearance at Pepperdine, and missed another because he went to junior college to improve his grades.

Harrick Jr. also said he won a different academic award, not the one listed.

"After what happened at UCLA, I'm not surprised about this," Georgia student Ryan Landers said. "I'm very disappointed, though."