Report: Jim Harrick Sr. retires
LOS ANGELES, March 28 (UPI) -- Embattled Georgia Coach Jim Harrick, who resigned Thursday night in the wake of an ongoing academic scandal, is now retired.
His resignation as basketball coach came less than three weeks after the scandal shamed the school into withdrawing from postseason play.
Harrick ended any additional role in the turmoil by stepping down, and afterwards, said he will not return to the bench in either college or the NBA.
"I decided it's time that I retired and that's what I did," Harrick told the Los Angeles Times in Friday's editions. "I had that right after 43 years in coaching."
Harrick had been suspended with pay since March 10, when Georgia President Michael Adams and Athletic Director Vince Dooley announced that the Bulldogs would not participate in the SEC Tournament, effectively ending the season for a team almost certainly headed for the NCAA Tournament.
The drastic move came amid allegations of academic fraud and improper benefits that prompted an investigation by the school, SEC, and NCAA. That investigation is ongoing, and apparently its findings thus far are the impetus for the settlement.
Harrick has denied any serious wrongdoing, and is confident that he will be exonerated.
"I will be in the end," Harrick told the paper. "They may find something, I don't know, but there is nothing major here."
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Harrick had three years remaining on a six-year contract that pays him $600,000 per season. The deal reportedly called for Harrick to receive a settlement of as much as $2.1 million if the school could not directly link him to alleged NCAA violations.
A statement from the school said the agreement goes into effect immediately, and will pay Harrick, 64, a total of $254,166, a figure that combines remaining base pay, radio and television payments, and a sneaker contract payment.
A longevity clause would have paid Harrick $400,000 had he lasted until Tuesday. Instead, Georgia will begin a search for a new coach, with former NBA coaches Tim Floyd and Lon Kruger certain to be on its short list.
Most of the allegations appear to revolve around former Georgia player Tony Cole and his dealings with former assistant Jim Harrick Jr., the coach's son, who was dismissed earlier this month.
This is the third straight job ending in disgrace for Harrick, who won the 1995 national championship at UCLA. He was fired from that position a year later after falsifying expense accounts and eventually was hired at Rhode Island.
Harrick changed his mind more than once in leaving Rhode Island for Georgia in 1999. Upon his departure, a woman who worked in the URI athletic department accused Harrick of sexual harassment.
On the same day Harrick was suspended for "unethical conduct," forward Chris Daniels and guard Rashard Wright were declared ineligible after a probe by the school uncovered academic fraud.
Later that week, star junior forward Jarvis Hayes declared for the NBA draft.
In late February, Cole alleged the younger Harrick sent him $300 to pay a phone bill, arranged for someone else to complete Cole's junior college correspondence courses, and gave Cole an "A" in a physical education class Cole claimed he never attended.
Daniels and Wright also took that class.
In an emotional interview on ESPN on March 4, the elder Harrick adamantly maintained he did nothing illegal and would be cleared of any wrongdoing. The following day, his son was fired.
One of only two coaches to take four schools to the NCAA Tournament, Harrick was 67-53 in four seasons at Georgia, including 19-8 this season. The school was headed for its third straight NCAA Tournament berth.
Harrick has a career record of 470-235 in 23 seasons at Pepperdine, UCLA, Rhode Island, and Georgia. He also has a quite a record of missteps.
A year after becoming the only coach other than John Wooden to win a title at UCLA, Harrick endured a first-round exit at the hands of Princeton, then was fired when Athletic Director Peter Dalis found he had falsified an expense report.
Christine King, an employee of the athletic department, filed a lawsuit against URI which reportedly detailed sexual harassment charges and allegations that Harrick, during his tenure from 1997-99 at the school, changed players' grades and arranged for players' term papers to be written by other students.
At Rhode Island, Harrick was also dogged by rumors surrounding the recruitment of Lamar Odom, who originally committed to UNLV before the school decided not to accept his transcripts.
NCAA region finals resume
ALBANY, N.Y., March 28 (UPI) -- Friday's games in the NCAA Tournament, in the East and South Regions, will features nearly all of the surprise teams.
Butler, a 12th seed, and 10th-seeded Auburn try to keep their magical seasons alive when they face more prominent foes in the East Region at Albany, N.Y.
In the East, Butler will oppose top-seeded Oklahoma before Auburn faces No. 3 Syracuse.
An unexpected participant in the South Region at San Antonio is No. 7 seeded Michigan State, which will face defending national champion Maryland, the region's sixth seed.
Top-seeded Texas will meet No. 5 Connecticut in the first game at San Antonio.
Hollis Price, who has been nursing a groin injury, hopes to be healthy enough to make a contribution for Oklahoma (26-6). The Sooners moved into the regionals with a 74-65 victory over California in the second round.
Butler (27-5) has beaten consecutive ranked teams after the hot shooting performance of Darnell Archey in a 79-71 second-round upset of Louisville. Archey nailed all six three-pointers in the second half and matched a career high with 26 points for the Bulldogs, who knocked off Mississippi State in the first round.
The placement of Syracuse (26-5) in the East Region raised plenty of eyebrows since the regionals are in Albany, a two-hour drive from its campus. It gives the Orangemen a huge geographical advantage, one that is usually reserved for teams seeded first or second.
Auburn (22-11) lost nine of 14 games heading into the NCAA Tournament before posting unlikely victories over Saint Joseph's and Wake Forest. Marquis Daniels averaged 21.5 points in the two wins.
No. 6 seed Maryland (21-9) tries to continue its pursuit of a third straight Final Four appearance.
Maryland and Michigan State (21-12) have combined for five Final Four appearances and two national titles in the last four years. The Terrapins won their first national title last season, and the Spartans won in 2000.
Texas (24-6) has won 10 of 12 games and has reached the "Sweet 16" for the second straight year for the first time in school history. Star guard T.J. Ford dominated the final minutes of the game Sunday as the Longhorns posted a 77-67 win over Purdue.
The Longhorns will be bolstered by playing in San Antonio, just a 90-minute drive from their Austin campus. The last time Texas played in San Antonio was a 70-54 victory over Temple on Feb. 19, 1995.
Connecticut (23-9) can give Coach Jim Calhoun his 400th victory with the school, and reach a regional final for the second straight year. The Huskies lost to Maryland in the East Region final a year ago.
Three of the four coaches in the South, Gary Williams of Maryland, Tom Izzo of Michigan State, and Connecticut's Jim Calhoun, each have won national championships in the last five years.
Texas Coach Rick Barnes never has been to the Final Four.
On Thursday, No. 1 seed Kentucky beat Wisconsin, 63-57, in the Mideast Region and advanced to a meeting with third-seeded Marquette, which topped No. 3 seed Pittsburgh, 78-74. The final is Saturday at Minneapolis.
In the West, top seed Arizona and second-seeded Kansas will meet in the region final on Saturday at Anaheim, Calif. Arizona drubbed Notre Dame, 88-71, and Kansas eased past Duke, 69-65.
Falcons ink MarTay Jenkins
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga., March 28 (UPI) -- The Atlanta Falcons have signed veteran free agent wide receiver MarTay Jenkins, which gives elusive quarterback Michael Vick another speed burner.
Terms of his contract were not disclosed.
The 6-0, 206-pound Jenkins is a four-year NFL veteran, who has played his entire career with Arizona after being claimed off waivers by the Cardinals in 1999.
He originally was drafted by Dallas in the sixth round, 193rd overall, of the 1999 NFL Draft out of Nebraska-Omaha. The Cardinals claimed Jenkins on Sept. 6, 1999, after he was waived by the Cowboys on the final roster cutdown.
A part-time player at wide receiver in his four seasons with the Cardinals, Jenkins has also been Arizona's primary kick returner the last three seasons, and likely will get his chances with the Falcons.
Last season, Jenkins played in eight games with one start before suffering a fractured scapula against St. Louis on Nov. 3, which forced him to spend the rest of the season on injured reserve.
For the year, he caught 21 passes for 250 yards and one touchdown, and returned 20 kicks for 559 yards, a 28.0-yard average, and one touchdown. Jenkins was named the NFC's Special Teams Player of the Week for his 95-yard kickoff return at Seattle on Sept. 5.
After playing in only three games for the Cardinals in his rookie season, Jenkins played in all 16 games in 2000. As the Cardinals primary kickoff returner, he set NFL records for most kickoff returns (82) and most kickoff return yards (2,186) in a single-season.
His 26.7-yard kickoff-return average ranked second in the NFC, third in the NFL, and was the highest by a Cardinals player since 1975. His 98-yard return for a touchdown against Minnesota was the first kickoff return for a touchdown by a Cardinals player since 1979.
Jenkins also caught 17 passes for 219 yards, which gave him a combined 2,402 all-purpose yards for the season, the second highest total in Cardinal history.
Cardinals ink Spikes
TEMPE, Ariz., March 28 (UPI) -- The Arizona Cardinals Friday signed offensive lineman Cameron Spikes, who plays both guard and tackle, to a two-year contract.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
After playing in 19 games during three seasons with the St. Louis Rams, Spikes was claimed on waivers by the Houston Texans prior to the 2002 season. He started five games at left guard for Houston last season.
The 6-2, 323-pounder becomes the seventh free agent signed by the Cardinals this offseason.
He joins the NFL's all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith, Super Bowl XXXVII MVP safety Dexter Jackson, quarterback Jeff Blake, fullback James Hodgins, linebacker James Darling, and offensive lineman Frank Garcia, a Phoenix native.
Martin released on technicality
JUPITER, Fla., March 28 (UPI) -- Veteran outfielder Al Martin found himself without a job Friday after he was unwittingly blindsided by a technicality in his contract with the Florida Marlins.
MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball, quoted Martin as saying he was released because he refused to sign a waiver that enables the team to option a player to the minor leagues the first 45 days of the season.
He had been a non-roster player who signed a minor league contract on Feb. 18. The Web site reported that he was told a few days ago that he had made the team, but when finalizing the details of the contract, worth $350,00, plus incentives, he balked when the Marlins informed him that enforcing the 45-day waiver was team policy.
"It's a gamble, yeah," said Martin, 35, who now risks not being picked up by another team this close to Opening Day. "It's what I believe. I don't know how to say it any other way. I'm not bitter at them. (Manager Jeff) Torborg got me in the lineup all the time. Essentially, I made the team, but it's their policy. It's the way they run their business. I'm not paying their bills. I have no say so in the matter."
Martin, who missed all last season with a left elbow injury, had a solid spring, hitting .342 in 38 at-bats. He added four doubles, two home runs, and nine RBI in 19 games. He had won the fifth outfield spot, which would have been mostly a pinch-hitter and spot starter role.
Martin's release opens the door for 36-year-old Gerald Williams to win the fifth outfield job.
Martin, who said he was not aware of the waiver when he signed, said he made up his mind not to sign the waiver Thursday night.
"I kept struggling with it," Martin said. "Going back-and-forth, because you don't want to do it. It came down to me thinking I would be doing myself an injustice, and it would bother me those first 45 days. I hope they respect what I'm doing."
In 10 seasons with Pittsburgh, Seattle, and San Diego, Martin has a .278 batting average with 129 home runs and 459 RBI in 1,132 games.
Orioles put Segui on DL
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 28 (UPI) -- The Baltimore Orioles have placed first baseman David Segui on the 15-day disabled list with a non-displaced fracture of his right thumb.
The move is retroactive to Friday, which means he is eligible to return April 5.
Segui suffered the injury fielding ground balls during batting practice before a game March 12 against Boston.
The Baltimore Sun reported Friday that club officials were prepared to lose Segui for the entire month of April, with projections that his hand would remain in a removable cast for four weeks and require another three weeks of healing time.
Segui, who batting practice Thursday and made solid contact, according to the paper, insisted all along that he would return much sooner, and was hoping to stay on the active roster when the Orioles headed north and be on the active roster Opening Day.
"I don't think he'll be that far away," Manager Mike Hargrove told the Sun.
Picked by most to finish at or near the bottom of the American League East, the Orioles were without Segui for all but 26 games last season because of a wrist injury. He batted .263 with two home runs and 16 RBI.
The career .292 hitter has been plagued by injuries during his second stint with the Orioles, appearing in just 107 games.
Dubai World Cup takes place Saturday
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 28 (UPI) -- The war in Iraq was not enough to keep Todd Pletcher away from the world's richest horse race.
Pletcher made the long trip to the Middle East this week, and will saddle Harlan's Holiday Saturday in the $6 million Dubai World Cup, which is part of a lucrative card at the Nad Al Sheba track.
The Dubai World Cup debuted in 1996, and the Empire Racing Association has generally been able to attract a marquee field to the Middle East. The inaugural event was a big success with undefeated American thoroughbred champion Cigar winning the event on the way to retirement.
The war in Iraq has some anxious trainers and owners keeping horses at home this year. Grade I winners Congaree and Medaglia d'Oro are among the horses staying stateside. One of the bigger hits came Monday, when the Japanese Racing Association decided to keep home possible favorite Gold Allure, just as the horse was about to be loaded on a plane.
The race for three-year-olds and up has not attracted any horses believed to be serious candidates for the upcoming Kentucky Derby.
Pletcher, however, decided to make the trip after talking to colleague Kiaran McLaughlin, who is based in Dubai for about five months every year, and told him there was no need to be apprehensive.
"Anytime you come in for a race of this magnitude, there's a lot of excitement," Pletcher said. "It's very difficult whenever you have to travel as far as you have to travel, but (Harlan's Holiday) seems to have handled that well. He's fit, and we're just trying to keep him happy."
The winner of last year's Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes and this year's Donn Handicap, Harlan's Holiday drew the 10th post in the 11-horse field for the 1 1/4-mile race.
"I'm very pleased with him," said Pletcher, who trains three potential Kentucky Derby starters this year in Indy Dancer, Aristocrat, and Lion Tamer.
There is no betting at the track, but British bookmakers have installed Harlan's Holiday at 5-1 odds.
The early favorite is Nayef, who drew the middle position, and is the 13-8 choice. Nayef, a son of Gulch, won the $2 million Dubai Sheema Classic on turf last year after he was kept out of the Dubai World Cup. However, the horse is 0-for-4 at the 1 1/4-mile distance, and has not raced since winning the Group One Juddmonte International in August in York, England.
Godolphin Racing, the Dubai-based organization that has won the event four times, has entered Moon Ballad and Godolphin. Moon Ballad, who drew the difficult 11th post, is a two-time winner on dirt at Nad Al Sheba, but was fourth behind Essence of Dubai in last year's UAE Derby.
Saturday's card features seven races featuring $15.25 million in purses.