Jim Harrick Jr. Fired

ATHENS, Ga. - One day after Georgia basketball coach <b>Jim Harrick</b> vowed that those looking for NCAA rules violations in his program "won't find anything,'' his son was fired - sending a strong message that improprieties already have been found.

Assistant coach Jim Harrick Jr., was fired Wednesday by Georgia athletics director Vince Dooley. Though Harrick Jr. will remain suspended with pay through the June 30 end of his contract, he was given a letter of non-renewal.

Later Wednesday, University of Georgia president Michael Adams entertained media for the first time  since former player Tony Cole charged last week  that he received academic and financial benefits from the Harricks not allowed by NCAA rules.

Said Adams: "I have not and will not tolerate any violation of NCAA policy, procedure or rule. An athletic program can be a very positive force on any campus, and on this campus, but it must operate within the mission of the university.'' Added Adams: "If we have a problem, we will fix it and we will move on to brighter days.''

Following the exit of Harrick Jr., these were the  questions of the day: Will the fix from Dooley and Adams include the firing of Harrick? Even if Harrick is not fired, will he choose to remain without his son?

"I don't know, that's going to be a hard decision,'' said backup guard Fred Gibson Wednesday. "We just have to sit back and wait until everything comes out.  This whole thing with Tony Cole is crazy.''

Perhaps the most serious charge against Harrick Jr. was academic fraud. Cole claimed that he was given credit for a P.E. course taught by Harrick Jr.  Cole says he never attended the class.

Georgia officials began investigating the charges Friday, and with the announcement from Dooley that he will not renew Harrick Jr.'s contract came the first confirmation that Georgia has uncovered academic wrongdoing.

Dr. Arnett C. Mace Jr., the interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Georgia, has issued a letter of reprimand to the head of the Physical Education and Sports Studies department, Dr. Paul G. Schempp.

As part of the statement released by the Georgia sports information department in which Dooley's action on Harrick Jr. was announced, Mace announced the reprimand.

"The university's internal procedures were not followed in assigning faculty to the particular course which is the focus of the current investigation,''

Mace said, indicating Harrick Jr. should not have been teaching the course. Dooley has said there were approximately 10 student-athletes among 30 students in the class taught one semester by Harrick Jr. Dooley says all 30 passed.

Chris Daniels and Rashad Wright, juniors on the basketball team, attended the class. Daniels said Tuesday he did not remember seeing Cole attend the class.

Admitting he was saying more than his attorneys prefer, Harrick spoke at length about the allegations Tuesday night after his team's 82-81 upset of No. 3 Florida in the final home game of the season for 25th-ranked Georgia. Harrick Jr. watched the game while standing in a Stegeman Coliseum tunnel behind the Georgia bench.

Neither Harrick nor his son could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The Bulldogs, who play at South Carolina Sunday at noon in their final regular-season game, had a day off from practice, and neither coach was in the basketball offices.

Adams recommended Harrick to Dooley in 1999 when Dooley was conducting the job search for a head coach to replace Ron Jirsa. Adams authorized an exception to the university's nepotism policy, allowing Harrick to hire his son as an assistant coach. Adams also approved Harrick's request to allow the admission of Cole, who even before his rocky two years at Georgia had a history of academic and conduct problems.

While at Georgia, Cole was accused of sexual assaults by three women and also was arrested for trespassing. Cole said he felt abandoned by the Harrick's when he and two other Georgia student-athletes were named in an alleged on-campus rape. Cole was suspended from the team by Harrick during the police investigation of the charges.

Though the charges eventually were dismissed, Cole was not reinstated to the team. Cole admits he has been motivated by revenge in his decision to come public with his allegations against the Harricks.

Dooley and Adams have said they are working with the NCAA and Southeastern Conference in the investigation of Cole's charges, including the allegation Harrick Jr. forwarded $300 to Cole to pay for a phone bill when Cole lived in Baton Rouge, La.

Said the elder Harrick, 64, after Tuesday night's game: "I can only take so many body blows. I've been hit below the belt for about five days.'' Added Harrick: "I will admit, I made a poor decision in recruiting (Cole). I've probably made some bad choices. I might have been trying to build a program too quickly or made poor decisions, but there's nothing wrong with that. We don't do (academic) work for people, nor do we give them money. "Have we made mistakes? Yeah. Will they find something minor? Maybe, I don't know.''

In only five days, enough was found to end the school's association with Harrick Jr. Adams said he was told of Dooley's decision Tuesday night.

"(Dooley) made a decision [that] he didn't want (Harrick Jr.) here next year,'' said Adams, who said he supports the "appropriate actions'' by Dooley and Mace. Added Adams: "I'm not listening to Coach Harrick right now. I'm listening to the people doing the investigation. It's my role to try to find the truth.''

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