ATHENS, Ga. - University of Georgia President Michael Adams has issued a strong statement in response to the latest scandal to rock the university's athletic program.
Signaling the end of his tolerance for athletic scandals, Dr. Adams said, "My patience, the patience of the faculty, and the patience of most of our supporters is exhausted over this continuing improper behavior by athletes. What was probably our best academic year ever is too often overshadowed by such incidents. I am disappointed and I expect corrective actions to be taken."
Dr. Adams' statement Thursday was prompted by the fact that nine UGA football players, including receiver Fred Gibson, sold their Southeastern Conference Championship rings. The sale of the rings violated NCAA rules, and on Wednesday UGA declared the players ineligible.
UGA Athletic Director Vince Dooley said he had no comment as to whether Dr. Adams' strongly worded statement was a slap at the UGA Athletic Association.
Last month, Mr. Dooley privately requested from Dr. Adams a four-year extension to his employment contract, which is due to end June 30, 2004. Asked whether he thought the football scandal, and Dr. Adams' response, would affect his request for an extension on his employment contract, Mr. Dooley said, "I have no comment on that."
William Espy, a member of the board of trustees for the University of Georgia Foundation, a private entity that handles donations to UGA, would not speculate about the impact the latest athletic scandal would have on the relationship between Dr. Adams and Mr. Dooley. He did say, however, that Mr. Dooley's contract should be extended.
"From a character perspective, he is a person of impeccable integrity. He has a wonderful intellect, and he's been a terrific leader of the athletic department at Georgia for a very long time - including as a coach and including his 10 years as athletic director," said Mr. Espy.
"Why in the world would you think of replacing him? I pose that as a question."
Other people entrenched in the university and its athletic program reserved judgment Thursday.
Bob Bishop, a member of the Athletic Association board for more than 20 years, said that he did not know much about the nine players who were declared ineligible, and that the matter of Mr. Dooley's contract "needs to be between Dr. Adams and Vince Dooley."
Echoing Mr. Bishop's sentiments, Athletic Association board member Jack Turner said, "I'm not going to get in the middle of all that."
A request for information about whether any of the nine players was admitted under the university's special admissions process, which requires ultimate approval by Dr. Adams, was denied.