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Report: Jim Harrick Sr. retires

  |   March 28, 2003 at 3:37 PM
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.

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