NCAA probe nears end

ATHENS -- The end of Georgia's long and messy investigation into its men's basketball program appears to finally be in sight, at least as far as the NCAA is concerned.

The university and former coaches Jim Harrick Sr. and Jim Harrick Jr. have submitted their responses to official letters of inquiry to college athletics' governing board. Georgia's response, a 52-page summary plus more than 1,000 pages of attached evidence, was hand-delivered in Indianapolis by Athens attorney Ed Tolley on Tuesday.

As expected, Georgia agreed with all the major findings in the NCAA letter, findings which were first reached in a joint investigation with UGA officials.

The Harricks also submitted their response Tuesday, the NCAA's deadline, Harrick Sr. said. Although the Harricks' response was not available, it's safe to assume the accounts of the events are very different.

Georgia agreed with the NCAA's assertions that Harrick Jr. provided $300 to Eva Davis, a Louisiana women, to help with former player Tony Cole's expenses; Harrick Jr. further violated NCAA standards by lying about the transaction; Harrick Jr. committed academic fraud in his teaching of a P.E. class in which three basketball players were enrolled, and that the basketball office was at fault for not making six players play for phone bills of more than $1,500 from road trips.

Georgia concludes its response by asking the NCAA not to impose penalties beyond the ones it self-imposed when UGA president Michael Adams and athletic director Vince Dooley pulled the team out of postseason play. Harrick Jr. was fired during the course of the investigation and Harrick Sr. also left the school.

Now that both parties have submitted their replies, the path is cleared for Georgia to appear before the NCAA Infractions Committee on April 16-18, when it will learn the NCAA's final ruling.

The Harricks, who also have filed a federal lawsuit against the school that threatens to drag on longer than the NCAA investigation, hope the hearing allows their side of the story to be told, Harrick Sr. said.

"We've answered every question (the NCAA had) and we found there as absolutely no academic fraud in any way shape of form and our people feel they can prove that and from everything I've seen they can prove that," he said. "What you have to understand is when they did their investigation they only interview Jim Jr. about five minutes on the class. When they say fraud, I want them to pinpoint what they mean. What exactly is it. Did they cheat on tests? Did somebody write somebody's paper?"

Georgia and the NCAA contend Cole, Chris Daniels and Rashad Wright received preferential treatment in the class. Cole claims he got an "A" without ever attending.

Georgia's response also:

-- Contends Harrick Sr. asked an unidentified woman, who described herself as a psuedo-"big sister" to Cole, to keep Cole from "going public" with any allegations.

-- Reports Georgia officials investigated an anonymous tip in August, 2001 that said Cole had stayed in an Athens hotel past his official visit weekend and run up $700 worth of phone bills. The school questioned Harrick Jr. but took no action on the issue due to lack of useful information, the report states.

Cole claimed in an ESPN interview that Georgia paid for more than $1,000 worth of hotel bills for him, in violation of NCAA rules.

-- Refutes any notion that Charlie Tapalian and Steve Macchioni, who have said they provided Harrick Jr. with the $300 to give to Cole, were "boosters" of Georgia since they provided assistance only to help one player.

"Georgia certainly has no problem disassociating these men from Georgia athletics," the response reads.

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