Originally created 03/06/03

Firing follows claims



One Harrick down. One to go?

That's the question in Athens, Ga., after Wednesday's firing of Georgia assistant basketball coach Jim Harrick Jr., whom former player Tony Cole accused of committing NCAA violations.

Amid investigation by the NCAA, the 38-year-old Harrick learned his contract won't be renewed past its June 30 expiration.

There aren't any guarantees how much longer his father, Bulldogs head coach Jim Harrick, will be around. School president Michael Adams - a longtime friend of Harrick who played a key role in his 1999 hiring - didn't provide any answers during a news conference late Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm not listening right now to coach Harrick," Adams said. "I'm listening to reports I'm getting from the people who are doing the investigations. This is a hard time for me."

Adams said he was unsure whether Harrick will still be the coach next week, when the No. 25 Bulldogs travel to New Orleans for the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

"If we have a problem, we will fix it and move on to brighter days," Adams said.

Bright days have been sparse for the Bulldogs since Cole, who was kicked off the team and left school in December, told a national television audience last week that Harrick Jr.:

  • Sent $300 to a friend to cover Cole's phone bill.
  • Paid more than $1,000 for Cole's lodging at two Athens hotels.
  • Arranged for someone other than Cole to take two correspondence courses that helped Cole get into Georgia.
  • Gave Cole an 'A' for a physical education class, taught by Harrick Jr., that Cole never attended.
  • Harrick, whom Cole said was aware of the alleged violations, has vehemently and repeatedly denied the accusations. Before Tuesday's game against No. 3 Florida - the Bulldogs won 82-81 - Harrick guaranteed on ESPN that he and his son would eventually be absolved of Cole's claims and that no major violations would be uncovered.

    Before the interview aired, Georgia athletic director Vince Dooley had made the decision to fire Harrick Jr., according to Adams.

    Dooley was out of town Wednesday and unavailable for comment. Harrick Jr. will remain suspended with pay until his contract expires.

    "Dooley informed me this time (Tuesday) that it was his intention, barring another opinion from me, to offer Jim Harrick Jr. a letter of non-renewal," Adams said.

    Adams said he was surprised to learn that Harrick Jr. taught a course in 2001 - Coaching Principles and Strategies of Basketball - in which his own players were enrolled.

    The head of Georgia's Physical Education and Sports Studies department, Paul G. Schempp, was reprimanded Wednesday for assigning Harrick Jr. to the course. Junior point guard Rashad Wright and junior forward Chris Daniels were also enrolled in the course, and they missed practice Monday while being questioned by NCAA and school investigators.

    Wright said Wednesday night that the loss of Harrick Jr. left "a tough feeling," but he didn't seem concerned that Harrick could be next.

    "We're not worried about it," said Wright, whose team concludes the regular season Sunday at South Carolina. "We're more worried about the rest of the season."

    Harrick Jr. was at Tuesday night's game, standing inside a corridor near the Bulldogs' bench. Georgia officials - including Dooley - were angered he was there while under suspension.

    Through a school spokesman, Harrick refused to comment on his son's firing. Harrick Jr. hasn't commented publicly since the controversy began.

    Adams and Harrick became close when the two served at Pepperdine University - Adams as the vice president for university affairs and professor of political communications from 1982-88, and Harrick as the basketball coach from 1979-88.

    "With all due respect, my personal feelings don't matter right now," Adams said. "What matters is the integrity of the university and protecting the university and leading the university through this. I'm going to leave the personal feelings for another day."

    Staff Writer Josh Katzowitz contributed to this report.

    Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or larry.williams@augustachronicle.com.