Georgia Basketball No Stranger to Academic Scandal

ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia coach Jim Harrick resigned Thursday amid a scandal in the basketball program, then announced he was retiring.

"My players have always been important to me, and I did not want the media attention or questions about my status to distract them any more,'' the 64-year-old Harrick said in a statement.

"I am grateful to the University of Georgia and our fans for their support over the last four years,'' he said.

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 also cost his son a job as an assistant coach and prompted the school to ban the No. 25 Bulldogs (19-8) from playing in the SEC and NCAA tournaments.

Athletic director Vince Dooley said Harrick's attorney contacted school lawyers "within the last 24 hours'' to communicate his desire to retire.

University officials said that under the agreement, Harrick will receive his remaining base pay, broadcast payments and a Nike payment, which total $254,166. Had he served out the remainder of his contract, he would have been entitled to $2.1 million.

Harrick rejected rumors he is interested in coaching the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, should the opportunity arise. Harrick coached current Clipper Lamar Odom when both were with Rhode Island.

"No, no, no," Harrick told The Los Angeles Times. "You know, I've had a great, great run. I've been in college coaching 30 years, 24 as a head coach. I've had a great run, and I don't know if you understand, but we have grandkids in Los Angeles we missed terribly. We sat and talked about it a long time, and we want to be there with them."

Earlier this month, Georgia announced findings of academic fraud involving Jim Harrick Jr., who granted credit hours to three players who did not attend the class in basketball strategy he was teaching.

Harrick Jr. had been suspended before the end of the season when former player Tony Cole's various accusations were telecast by ESPN.

Georgia subsequently found that current players Chris Daniels and Rashad Wright had also received the fraudulent credit. Harrick Jr. was also told that his contract would not be renewed.

A confidentiality clause is included in a six-page retirement agreement signed by Dooley and Harrick on Thursday. The agreement states Georgia will "not disparage Mr. Harrick.''

Dooley said he and Harrick spoke briefly Thursday.

"I shook his hand and told him that I was sorry,'' Dooley said.

Harrick met briefly with his players, none of whom were available for comment.

"I don't know all his reasons,'' said Dooley of Harrick's retirement decision. "There are no findings that I know of that directly associates him with any violations.''

"They had no violations on me," Harrick told The Times. "Even (Georgia Athletic Director Vince Dooley) said that in the press conference. I felt good about that."

Dooley said that the settlement arrangement should not be interpreted as an indication that there was "a smoking gun'' uncovered in the ongoing investigation.

"It simply says that we paid him what we were obligated to up to the time he resigned,'' said Dooley.

"I will be (exonerated) in the end," Harrick told The Times. "They may find something, I don't know, but there is nothing major there."

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

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