New Georgia basketball coach Dennis Felton apparently will have at least two roster spots to fill in the spring signing period, which began Wednesday, but first he had to make his own signing official.
Six days after he was introduced as Georgia's new coach, Felton signed his five-year contract Wednesday that will pay him $700,000 per year.
Felton succeeds Jim Harrick, who resigned March 27 amid allegations of academic fraud, unethical conduct and improper financial benefits in the Georgia program.
The NCAA's investigation of the allegations has led to two signees asking to be released from their scholarships. Forward Mohamed Abukar of Escondido, Calif., and guard Jordan Howell of Madison, Ala., have been granted their releases, and they will be immediately eligible if they sign with another school outside the Southeastern Conference.
However, each player may have an interest in seeking a waiver of the SEC rule - bylaw 15.01.5d - that prohibits them from receiving financial aide at another SEC school for two years.
Though he has agreed to allow Howell and Abukar to be released from their scholarships to Georgia, Felton may continue to recruit the two. If he becomes convinced they will sign elsewhere, however, Felton will have to see what other players may be available in the spring signing period.
Meanwhile, Felton's top assistant, Pete Herrmann, was in the Georgia basketball offices Wednesday for the first time. Felton plans to bring his full staff of assistants from Western Kentucky.
Herrmann was a candidate to succeed Felton as the Hilltoppers' new head coach, but Western Kentucky named Marquette assistant Darrin Horn its new head coach Tuesday.
Herrmann, a former head coach at Navy, Ken McDonald and Bert Tucker have not been officially announced as assistant coaches on Felton's staff. Georgia is completing background checks on the three assistants.