We didn't know we were doing anything wrong

<b>Chris Daniels</b> said he signed up for the class only because he had to replace another class during the drop-add period of registration.

ATHENS, Ga. - Chris Daniels said Tuesday that he had no idea he was participating in academic fraud or unethical conduct when he followed the attendance policy established by former assistant coach Jim Harrick Jr. in a P.E. class last fall.

"We didn't know we were doing anything wrong,'' Daniels said. "We were just doing what we were told (by Harrick Jr.).''

Daniels and teammate Georgia's basketball team, enrolled in the now infamous course - "Coaching Principals and Basketball Strategies'' -taught by Harrick Jr. last fall.

Also enrolled in the class was former Georgia player Tony Cole, whose accusations of rules violations at Georgia sparked the investigation which has cost Harrick Jr. his job, left head coach Jim Harrick suspended with pay, and on Monday prompted University of Georgia president Michael Adams and athletics director Vince Dooley to pull the Georgia team out of the Southeastern Conference and NCAA tournaments.

Also Monday, Dooley announced Daniels and Wright had been suspended from eligibility but would have an opportunity to return next season, when they will be seniors.

Said Daniels of the course: "Right from the start it was trouble. It's just unfortunate we had to take the fall.''

Daniels said the players were told by Harrick Jr. that they would earn credit for the class simply by attending basketball practice.

"We attended the class on a couple occasions when it started, but when practice started (Harrick Jr.) told us we had a deal with the dean of the P.E. department that we didn't have to attend class anymore, that we would receive credit for attending practice,'' Daniels said.

Added Daniels: "We just thought we were following the rules. ... It just came out to hurt us at the end.''

On March 5, Dr. Arnett C. Mace Jr., the interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Georgia, issued a letter of reprimand to the head of the Physical Education and Sports Studies department, Dr. Paul G. Schempp.

That reprimand was the first public confirmation that Georgia had uncovered academic wrongdoing in its investigation of Cole's charges. When evidence of academic fraud and unethical fraud was confirmed, Dooley and Adams acted quickly Monday to suspend Harrick and to pull the basketball team from this week's SEC tournament.

Daniels said he signed up for the class only because he had to replace another class during the drop-add period of registration. When Harrick Jr. agreed shortly before the start of fall semester to teach the course, Daniels said the players were encouraged to take the class.

"I had trouble with my schedule, getting enough hours for the semester,'' Daniels said. "It was just a class I picked up at the last minute. It was really a class that I didn't even need. It's not going to my graduation (requirements) or anything.''

Dooley said the basketball players who received credit without attending the class probably will be given failing grades, but he noted that Daniels and Wright "are both 3.0 students. They certainly don't need the course for their eligibility."

Wright and Daniels did not attend a team meeting Tuesday afternoon, but assistant coach James Holland said he tried to contact both players to inform them of the meeting.

Daniels said he plans to return for his senior season.

"I have been told we will be able to play next year,'' he said.

Holland said Tuesday "Rashad and Chris are part of the family and we expect them to have their eligibility restored as the process goes along.''

Added Holland: "Right now, a lot of people feel Rashad and Chris are at fault for the team not playing, and it's not their fault. ... Chris and Rashad are two of the finest young men I have ever coached.''

Of the students in the P.E. class, 10 - about one-third of the class - were student-athletes, including three members of the football team, according to Dooley.

Dooley said evidence uncovered so far shows academic fraud apparently only included the basketball players.

Georgia football coach Mark Richt said Tuesday he has been told that players from his team who enrolled in the P.E. class actually attended the class.

"I think it has been found that everybody (from the football team) is in really good shape, in terms of attendance,'' Richt said. "I think we're OK.''

Richt would not identify the members of his team who were in the class.

Dawg Post Top Stories