Georgia SEC Tournament notebook

ATLANTA -- Georgia coach Dennis Felton took some time away from talking about the SEC Tournament on Wednesday to rant against the "5/8 rule."

The rule prevents college basketball teams from signing more than five scholarship players in one year and eight players in two years. The rule's intent is to force coaches to recruit athletes more equipped to graduate school and not force out players who aren't working out on the court.

However, the rule in unfairly punitive to rebuilding teams and was implemented to address a problem that is blown out of proportion, Felton said.

"It's the worst thing that has happened to the game since I've been coaching," he said. "It's terrible for the quality of the game because it's making it impossible for any of us to maintain a consistent program."

The "5/8 rule" will be discussed in April by the Division I Board of Directors and could be eliminated, but Kansas chancellor Bob Hemenway told The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader that he doesn't expect the rule to go away this year.

That won't stop Felton from hoping.

"It's the right thing to do," he said. "It's the smart thing to do so I'm always going to be hopeful. If smart, thoughtful minds prevail, it will be changed." If the rule is not overturned, it will take Felton and his staff four seasons to reach their allowed maximum of 13 scholarship players, and that's assuming no player leaves early for any reason. Georgia currently has seven scholarship players and four of them will graduate in May.

Felton laid the blame for the rule at the feet of college presidents, who make decisions regarding the sport without consulting coaches, he said.

"For whatever reason, (coaches) aren't taken seriously at all. We are not trusted at all," Felton said. "The people making the decisions are so far removed. They keep coming up with these bright ideas, but it takes a basketball coach about five minutes to come up with 12 reasons it's a bad idea.

"I don't need a president from the West Coast telling me how to graduate my players. I graduate every one of my players. Presidents, run your own programs. It's that simple. I think egos are involved. A couple of people who came up with this great idea, their egos won't let them back down."

STILL TALKING TOURNEY: Last week, Felton said he was done speculating about what Georgia needed to do this week to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, but on Wednesday, he was back to lobbying for a spot in the Big Dance.

"I believe seven (SEC) teams are already in," Felton said. " I'll almost say I could see us getting eight in. The conference is just that powerful relative to the rest of the country."

The SEC has never gotten more than six teams in the NCAA Tournament, but that is expected to change this year. Kentucky, Mississippi State, LSU, South Carolina, Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama are seen as the teams who have already done enough to earn an at-large invitation.

Georgia probably would be the eighth team if the SEC gets that many. That seems a longshot, but Felton pointed out that other major conferences such as the Pac-10 are having off seasons and may only send two or three teams to the tournament.

"I see the SEC picking up those spots," he said.

Felton also said he disagrees with the projection that Georgia must win the SEC Tournament to qualify for the NCAAs.

"I don't think we have to win all four games by any means," he said. "I think if we win two, we are in."

SO?: Senior forward Chris Daniels was unimpressed Wednesday when he learned Felton won three straight conference tournaments at Western Kentucky before leaving to take the Georgia job.

"The Sun Belt Conference is not the SEC so we just have to concentrate on the task at hand," Daniels said.

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