Harrick out as UGA coach

The Associated Press

ATHENS, Ga. ? Georgia coach Jim Harrick resigned Thursday amid a scandal in the basketball program that also cost his son a job as an assistant.

Harrick was suspended with pay March 10 pending a joint investigation by the university, the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference into alleged academic fraud.

The scandal prompted the school to ban the No. 25 Bulldogs (19-8) from playing in the SEC and NCAA tournaments.

The decision came after it was discovered that at least one player received an A in a class taught by assistant coach Jim Harrick Jr. despite never attending.

University officials said that under a resignation agreement, the elder Harrick will receive his remaining base pay, broadcast payments and a Nike payment, which total $254,166.

"This entire situation has been, and is, regrettable for the athletic program and the university," athletic director Vince Dooley said in a statement.

"Coach Harrick is an accomplished coach of the game of basketball; however, I believe his resignation and retirement at this time to be in the best interests of the athletic association and the university, and coach Harrick obviously believes it is in his best interests, as well."

This wasn't the first time Harrick had gotten in trouble.

Harrick was fired by UCLA in 1996 ? a season after winning the national title ? for lying about an expense report.

Harrick then went to Rhode Island and took that school to the regional finals of the 1998 NCAA tournament. He was accused of improprieties during his two years there.

A former secretary at Rhode Island said Harrick had grades changed for players, had student managers write papers for players and arranged for players to receive lodging, cars and money from boosters. In addition, Harrick Jr. was accused of falsifying hotel and meal reports for recruits when he worked for his father at Rhode Island.

The Georgia investigation began after Tony Cole, kicked off the team last year, accused the younger Harrick of paying his bills, doing schoolwork and teaching a sham class on coaching. Cole also said he used the elder Harrick's credit card to buy a television and got money from a booster.

Cole said he never attended the coaching class, but received an A. Two other players ? starters Chris Daniels and Rashad Wright ? were also in the class and got A's. They were declared ineligible March 10 for academic fraud and unethical conduct.

Harrick had three years left on a contract that pays him $600,000 a year. He was scheduled to get a $400,000 longevity bonus when the contract expires in June 2006.

Without a finding that Harrick was directly involved in alleged NCAA rules violations, he would be owed $2.1 million. Under the contract, deliberate violations of NCAA rules would have allowed the university to fire him without further pay.

Dooley said the investigation into the basketball program will continue.

"We will also now begin the search for a new coach," he said.

University president Michael Adams, who worked with Harrick at Pepperdine and was one of the greatest advocates of hiring him at Georgia, said he and Dooley had placed a lot of confidence in Harrick, "a man of considerable coaching talent."

"We were greatly disappointed to lose that confidence due to Coach Harrick's failure to appropriately manage the basketball program. Based upon the facts discovered in the investigation to date, his resignation is appropriate and we accept it," Adams said.

He said Georgia would continue to work with the NCAA and SEC "to right any wrongs and get the men's basketball program back as it should be among the very best in the nation both on and off the court."