Basketball hears from NCAA

ATHENS – After a full day Saturday in Indianapolis before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, Georgia now can do nothing but wait to learn the fate of its men's basketball program.

More than a dozen representatives from the school presented the results of a 13-month investigation into the actions of former coaches Jim Harrick Sr. and Jim Harrick Jr. to the committee in a meeting that began at 10 a.m. EDT and lasted past 9 p.m.

"It was a long day," said Ed Tolley, an Athens lawyer who led Georgia's portion of the investigation. "We asked them to accept our self-imposed penalties, and they have the latitude to do that or to increase the penalties, but we're very optimistic."

University president Michael Adams released a nine-page statement after the meeting that consisted of his opening remarks to the committee.

"I would respectfully request that the committee take into consideration the reputational impact we have weathered; the financial loss we have incurred; the detriment to our players and fans; and the general malaise that such a series of events has cast over an institution of this quality," the statement read. "Futhermore, I have no doubt as the process has languished that new men's basketball coach Dennis Felton's efforts to recruit and rebuild our basketball program have been hampered.

"We do believe the level of cooperation and the appropriate actions we have taken along with the travails mentioned above should be interpreted as sufficient penalty and punishment."

The Harricks, along with their attorneys, attended Saturday's events, which resulted in the lengthy hearing. Robert Tanenbaum, the lead attorney, said Thursday he was uncertain if he and his clients would attend the hearing. Since Georgia and the NCAA agree on the charges made against the school, Georgia officials felt the proceedings could be finished by the middle of the afternoon if the Harricks chose not to attend.

Tanenbaum and both of the Harricks declined comment after the meeting. Harrick Sr., now a consultant for the Denver Nuggets, did ask reporters for an update on the NBA playoffs as he left the building.

"I think the committee bent over backward to make sure that this was a fair proceeding and allowed everyone, particularly the Harricks and their lawyers, to air their positions," Tolley said. I thought (the committee) was particularly patient through the proceedings. We made our points quickly. We weren't at risk. We were admitting the situation."

Entering the hearing, Georgia and the NCAA, which conducted their investigations simultaneously, were in agreement on all four major violations found. Those were:

-- That Harrick Jr., an assistant coach under his father, paid $300 for expenses accrued by former player Tony Cole.

-- That Harrick Jr. behaved in a manner not consistent with NCAA guidelines by knowingly violating a rule when he made that payment.

-- That Harrick Jr. fraudulently awarded grades to Cole and players Chris Daniels and Rashad Wright in a physical education course

-- And that six basketball players received extra benefits by making more than $1,500 worth of long-distance phone calls for which they never paid.

After discovering what the school and NCAA have called "academic fraud" in Harrick Jr.'s basketball coaching class, Adams and athletic director Vince Dooley pulled the basketball team from the SEC and NCAA tournaments. The school was hopeful entering Saturday's hearing that their action, coupled with their cooperation with the investigation, would convince the NCAA that no further penalties were warranted.

"Looking back, a year later, despite the hurt and anger of the team members and some fans, I believe we made appropriate decisions," Adams' statement read. "This is an administration not of too little ‘institutional control,' but, as some have alleged, ‘too much.'"

The Committee on Infractions generally releases its final ruling in four to six weeks, although some decisions take longer. Georgia could face the loss of scholarships, loss of recruiting rights, the forfeiture of games or even a further postseason ban.

"I thought it went well from the standpoint of no surprises," Felton said. "It went about exactly as I had been prepared to expect. Ed just talked about the severity of the impact that has already been endured by the university and our program."

The Harricks have filed a lawsuit against Adams, UGA athletic director Vince Dooley, NCAA president Myles Brand, the UGA Athletic Association and the UGA Board of Regents among others. That suit is still pending and could go to trial later this year.

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