Harrick insists his innocence to ESPN

The Tony Cole controversy continues to overshadow the end of Georgia's regular season.

ATHENS, Ga. - The Tony Cole controversy continues to overshadow the end of Georgia's regular season.

For the second time in three days, Georgia's home basketball game was nationally televised Tuesday night - this time against Florida - and again the main topic of conversation was the charges from Cole, a former Georgia player, that Coach Jim Harrick and his son, assistant coach Jim Harrick Jr., violated NCAA rules by giving Cole financial and academic benefits.

The University of Rhode Island - which employed both Harricks from 1998-99 before they were hired by Georgia - has launched its investigation of possible rules violations by the coaches at that school.

One of the most serious charges by Cole is that he was given credit for a P.E. class taught by Harrick Jr. that Cole says he never attended.

Two Georgia players - guard Rashad Wright and forward Chris Daniels - were pulled from Monday's practice to answer questions about attending the class with Cole.

Harrick Sr. told ESPN before Tuesday night's game that Cole's charge that he never attended the class conflicted with testimony from Wright, Daniels and other Georgia students.

"The bad thing is people jump to conclusions,'' Harrick said. "Don't jump to conclusions. ... It will all come out ... and it's going to be right.''

Added Harrick: "I've been in this business 30 years. You don't survive by giving players money and doing work for them.''

When asked if the Georgia investigation has uncovered a reason to dismiss either of the Harricks, Georgia athletics director Vince Dooley said Tuesday "To this point, there has not been anything substantial.''

Dooley said he has learned there were 30 students enrolled in the class in which Harrick Jr. taught the principals and strategies involved in coaching basketball. Of the 30, Dooley said "about 10'' were student-athletes, including Cole, Wright and Daniels.

Dooley said he has had two interviews with the elder Harrick.

"(Harrick) felt like these allegations can be responded to,'' Dooley said. "He felt confident they could be addressed.''

Added Dooley: "At this point I am satisfied (with Harrick's answers).''


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