Four new finalists emerge

University of Georgia officials will interview four candidates for its head baseball coaching job in the next few days, and then a newly formed committee will make a recommendation to athletics director Vince Dooley. As a result, Ron Polk's successor could be named this week.

Polk returned to Mississippi State University last month. He was that school's head coach for 22 years (1976-97). He coached Georgia the past two seasons (2000 and 2001), compiling a record of 79-48. Polk directed the Georgia Bulldogs to the 2001 Southeastern Conference championship and a berth in the College World Series.

Georgia's new finalists include Minnesota's John Anderson, Stetson's Pete Dunn, Winthrop's Joe Hudak and Georgia assistant David Perno.

Five candidates--Tulane's Rick Jones, Miami (Fla.)'s Jim Morris, Baylor's Steve Smith, East Carolina's Keith LeClair and Florida State's Mike Martin--declined overtures from Georgia.

Anderson, 45, has been head coach at Minnesota for 20 seasons, where he has compiled a 724-445-3 record. Anderson has led the Golden Gophers to five Big Ten Conference championships and 12 appearances in the NCAA tournament. The Gophers were 35-19 last season and finished third in the Big Ten.

Dunn has compiled a 810-486-3 record in 22 seasons as Stetson's head coach. He has led the Hatters to 10 NCAA tournaments Stetson posted a record of 43-17 this season before falling to Miami (Fla.) in the NCAA Regionals. Dunn was an assistant to Polk at Georgia Southern from 1972-74. Dunn was also a candidate for the Florida head job earlier this year.

Hudak, 50, has built Winthrop into a consistent winner during his 11 years at the school. The Eagles have played in three NCAA tournaments since 1995, and last season they beat Clemson, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina in regular-season games. Hudak was Polk's pitching coach at Mississippi State for two seasons.

Perno, 34, is a native of Athens, GA and played on Georgia's 1990 team that won the national championship. He was Polk's hitting coach and recruiting coordinator the past two years and also worked for three seasons as an assistant to former Georgia head coach Robert Sapp.

Perno has been a candidate for the job since it first became available. According to published reports, Perno was interviewed by Dooley several weeks ago and has also met with associate athletics directors Claude Felton and Damon Evans about filling the vacancy. Perno was scheduled to interview with Georgia officials again this past weekend.

However, Perno may still be considered a longshot for the job. Dooley has said the university will first attempt to hire a proven head coach and Perno is the only candidate among the five who rejected overtures or the four new finalists without head coaching experience.

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