Harrick lawsuit done

ATHENS – Georgia is one step closer to putting the Jim Harrick era completely in its past after a recent decision by an Atlanta judge.

In a March 30 ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story dismissed the few remaining portions of Jim Harrick Jr.'s lawsuit against the school.

"The judge ruled the burden was on them to come forward with (more evidence), and they never did and the judge dismissed the case," said Athens attorney Ed Tolley, who represented all the defendants in the case, including himself, the Board of Regents, UGA President Michael Adams, former athletic director Vince Dooley and the UGA Athletic Association, among others.

The Telegraph first reported last April that Story had dismissed the bulk of the case, including all of Harrick Sr.'s claims. The most recent ruling dismissed Harrick Jr.'s claims that he had been defamed by the university as well as the victim of an invasion of privacy, Tolley said.

"There's a milestone in putting all of this part of it behind us," Tolley said Friday. "I think it's a long time in coming. It was made more complicated by some rather creative pleadings that were filed in the case. It is a vindication because we won on all points, but more importantly it vindicates the original point and actions that were taken in the case."

Former Harrick attorney Robert Tanenbaum, who told The Telegraph last April that he and his clients were going forward with the case, resigned following the most recent court ruling and filed a motion with the court stating his character had been defamed by the Harricks and co-counsel Herman Kaufman, Tolley said.

"They apparently have had some sort of disagreement," Tolley said.

The only portion of the original lawsuit filed by the Harricks which remains is a claim by Harrick Jr. that the NCAA maliciously interfered with his contract at Georgia. That portion is expected to be thrown out at the end of this month if the Harricks don't provide more evidence to the court.

Harrick Jr. was fired by UGA in March of 2003 and his father was forced out later that month after an investigation conducted by the school and the NCAA uncovered what those bodies referred to as academic fraud and unethical conduct by both coaches. The school withdrew its team from the SEC Tournament and consideration for the NCAA Tournament, and the NCAA subsequently put the school on probation for four years.

That probation and a lawsuit that was reinstated in March are now the only connections left to the Harrick era, which spanned from 1999-2003. The lawsuit, filed by a student at the school who alleged she was the victim of sexual assault by Harrick players Tony Cole and Steve Williams and football player Brandon Williams, had been thrown out, but the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta re-instated it.

The former student is claiming that the university erred in admitting Cole. Williams was the only one of the trio charged in the case, and he was acquitted in 2002 of charges of rape.

"We believe we'll be vindicated in that case," Tolley said. "It is the last remaining thread to the Harricks."

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