With no postseason game players leave town

Having lost hope of playing another game - including a game in the NIT - most Georgia players will leave town for spring break today.

ATHENS, Ga. - Having lost hope of playing another game - including a game in the NIT - most Georgia players will leave town for spring break today.

Before fallout from an ongoing investigation of the basketball program led school officials to suspend Coach Jim Harrick and pull the team out of postseason play, the Bulldogs had been scheduled to open play in the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday night.

Players tried without success Wednesday to force their way back into postseason consideration by filing a suit or by appealing to University of Georgia president Michael Adams and athletics director Vince Dooley.

Neither tactic produced a favorable result, and Thursday the players were left with the realization there is no reason to remain in Athens this weekend.

Even the suggestion that Adams and Dooley could still allow the team to participate in the National Invitation Tournament provided only short-lived hope.

Dooley, contacted Thursday in New Orleans, said he believes the self-imposed ban from participating in the Southeastern Conference and NCAA tournaments also would include the NIT.

"I would certainly not make that final decision, but my initial reaction is that I don't think (the NIT) would be an option,'' Dooley said.

Dooley and Adams announced the 21st-ranked Bulldogs would be held out of the postseason in a press conference Monday when it also was announced Harrick and two starting players - Rashad Wright and Chris Daniels - have been suspended. Assistant coach Jim Harrick Jr. already had been suspended and then told his contract will not be renewed.

Stung by the moves and hurt by the fact they were not informed of the decisions before watching the press conference on TV, the players responded in Clarke County Superior Court Wednesday with an attempt to keep their postseason hopes alive.

The players' request for an injunction was not granted, and a hearing scheduled for Monday to hear more evidence on the matter also is of little help. The NCAA tournament selection committee will fill its tournament bracket Sunday, and the NIT makes its selections Sunday night. In either case, the Monday hearing would be too late for the players.

Bill Hancock, media coordinator for the NCAA tournament, said his committee could not consider a team based on the possibility it could win a legal right to play in the tournament the following day.

"The committee can only act on the facts that are before it,'' Hancock said. "The facts now are that the university has removed itself from consideration from the tournament.''

Players were left to try to find another way to provide public closure for their season. The team's annual postseason banquet is scheduled for April 16, and junior Jarvis Hayes has suggested making that a fan appreciation event.

Hayes and other players also have considered planning an intrasquad game and inviting fans to the game.

"That wouldn't be a problem at all as long as it did not come into any NCAA (rules) problems,'' Dooley said.

"I would very much be in favor of anything they would like to do in that respect as long as it does not break any NCAA rules.''

Assistant coach James Holland, the interim head coach while Harrick is suspended, said Thursday players have not talked with him about either proposal.

"I've just basically been trying to make sure  the kids are squared away,'' Holland said. "I talked to them about going to class and when spring break is over with starting some workout and getting better for next year.''

In other words, there was no reason to talk about any lingering hope of another game this year.

"There's really no need to discuss that,'' Holland said.

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