Locals react to Harrick resignation

By Anthony Rhoads

For Georgia graduate and current Mt. Zion boys' basketball coach Rick Moore, University of Georgia basketball coach Jim Harrick's resignation Thursday came as no surprise.

"According to my sources, I thought he was going to resign today; it was just a matter of when," Moore said. "I think it was in the best interest of the program that he resigned. It would have been difficult to recapture the spirit and enthusiasm in the program. It's a sad situation for the players, the coaches and Georgia fans."

Jonesboro head tennis coach Jeanine Conkle is another Georgia alumnus who was expecting Harrick to be fired or to resign.

"I think he was probably told to resign or be fired," she said. "It seems like he was brought in to coach when he shouldn't have because of his past record. I hate it for the boys who play and for Georgia, but it was probably best that he quit."

Harrick was suspended with pay on March 10 after allegations of academic fraud. Harrick's son, Jim Harrick Jr., later lost his job as an assistant after former Georgia player Tony Cole came forward with several allegations.

"A lot of people turned on Harrick when they suspended his son and that he left his son to carry the burden," Henry County High School Athletic Director and former basketball coach Chuck Miller said. "It's incomprehensible you let your son out to dry and keep your job. I feel that the University of Georgia would have lost all credibility when they penalized their kids but kept the same coach.

"I think it was best for the game of basketball, the University of Georgia, him and his family that he resigned," Miller said.

Georgia finished the regular season with a record of 19-8, and could have made a run in the SEC and NCAA tournaments, but the university decided to not let the team play in the postseason.

"I feel like the majority of it wasn't his fault," said Georgia fan Shane Perdue, of College Park. "I think Vince Dooley should have given him another chance. It's not fair that the players were out of the SEC because of what Tony Cole did."

Prior to coming to Georgia, Harrick was at UCLA and Rhode Island, and he had trouble at both schools. He was fired at UCLA for lying on an expense report and was accused of many improprieties at Rhode Island.

"He lied," Miller said. "I think the president (Michael Adams) wouldn't listen to Dooley from the get-go. I think ultimately it falls back on the president. They need to get a coach who will do things the right way. Maybe they need someone like Bobby Knight, who one time told a group of alumni that if anyone cheated he would kick their you-know-what. You don't have to cheat to win."

Clayton College & State University head basketball coach Gordon Gibbons knows what it takes to be successful at the college level, as he is among the all-time leaders in wins among Division II coaches.

Gibbons said a program must follow guidelines and those who don't follow the rules should be penalized.

"College basketball is run on a set of rules that prevent a competitive edge in competition and recruiting, and when somebody breaks these rules something has to be done," he said.

Moore is confident Georgia can rebound from the controversy.

"It will take a couple of years, but I fully expect they will be very successful in the future," Moore said. "It probably unfairly casts a black eye because I don't think it's reflective on the university as a whole, just a few individuals. Mistakes were made and you have to make sure those same mistakes aren't made again."

Gibbons is also confident Georgia can get through the adversity.

"Georgia has a great athletic program and they will be able to land a quality coach and quality players," he said. "There is great drawing power at a school like Georgia, and they will be back."