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Updated: March 6, 2:53 PM ET
Harrick Jr. fired amid investigations; is Harrick next?

ESPN.com news services

Jim Harrick's son was fired Wednesday by Georgia, ridding the troubled program of the assistant coach accused of academic fraud and paying a player's bills.

Jim Harrick Sr & Jr
Georgia coach Jim Harrick will have to carry on without son Jim Jr., right, who lost his job Wednesday because of mounting allegations of NCAA violations.

Now the question is: Can the father survive?

In one of the most serious challenges of his 23-year coaching career, Harrick is fighting to keep his job after former player Tony Cole accused the coach's son of paying his bills, doing schoolwork and teaching a sham class on coaching during an interview with ESPN's Jeremy Schaap.

Harrick Jr. was suspended with pay on Friday after the allegations came to light. Just five days later, the school announced the 38-year-old assistant basketball coach would be let go when his contract expires June 30.

"We will not tolerate any violations of NCAA rules,'' school president Michael Adams said Wednesday. "If we have a problem, we'll fix it and move on to better days.''

The dismissal of Harrick Jr. was a huge blow to his father, who vowed Tuesday that no major rules had been broken. The head coach had said he expected his son to be reinstated and the program to be vindicated once all the facts were known.

Instead, athletics director Vince Dooley decided that Harrick Jr. couldn't stay, an indication the school already has uncovered violations in an investigation that's less than a week old.

The timing of the move also was telling. On Tuesday night, the No. 25 Bulldogs pulled off one of their biggest victories of the season, upsetting No. 3 Florida 82-81. Harrick Jr. watched the game from a tunnel near the Georgia bench, unable to take his usual seat alongside his father.

Afterward, the elder Harrick lingered on the court, denying Cole's allegations but also conceding his program might be guilty of some violations.

"We don't do work for people, nor do we give them money,'' the coach said. "Do we make mistakes? Yeah. Will they find something minor? Maybe.''

Harrick wouldn't comment on his son's dismissal. Harrick Jr. has refused to talk since the allegations were made.

Meanwhile, Georgia forward Chris Daniels gave credence to one of the most damaging accusations from Cole, who says he got an "A'' for a class he never attended.

Harrick Jr. taught the class, "Coaching Principles and Strategies of Basketball.''

Daniels, who took the same course, was pulled out of practice Monday to meet with NCAA and school investigators.

While unsure if he was enrolled in the class at the same time as Cole, Daniels said, "I think it's the same one. I never saw him in there.''

In a related development, the head of Georgia's Physical Education and Sports Studies department, Paul G. Schempp, was reprimanded for assigning Harrick Jr. to the course.

Adams said he was surprised to learn that Harrick Jr. had taught a class in which his players were students. The president vowed it wouldn't happen again.

Cole also claims that Harrick Jr. did the work for correspondence courses that helped the player improve his grades before he was admitted to Georgia.

In addition, Harrick Jr. is accused of paying Cole's hotel bills in Athens and wiring $300 to a woman in Baton Rouge, La., to pay a phone bill. The former player produced a Western Union receipt with the sender listed as "Jim Harrick.''

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a Rhode Island booster, Charlie Tapalian, provided the money that was wired to Cole in August 2001. The elder Harrick coached at Rhode Island from 1997-99, with his son on the staff the second year. Harrick Jr. has also coached at San Diego State, Valparaiso, Marshall and Loyola-Chicago.

Tapalian said he was told that Cole needed the money to pay bills in Baton Rouge, La. Steve Macchioni, another Rhode Island man, said he forwarded the money to Harrick Jr.

"We basically were taking care of Tony Cole," Tapalian told the newspaper. "Steve said that Tony had some bills to pay at the time. I gave Steve the money, and he got in touch with Jimmy and gave him the money to send down to Cole. That's where that $300 came from."

Rhode Island has begun its own investigation, looking into accusations of NCAA violations made by a former employee as part of a sexual harassment lawsuit against the elder Harrick. The case was settled out of court for $45,000.

Publicly, at least, the longtime coach is convinced he'll still have a job at Georgia once the investigation is completed.

"You can only take so many body blows,'' Harrick said. "I've been hit below the belt the last five days. But I'm confident it will all work out.''

In an interview with ESPN's Dick Vitale on Tuesday, the elder Harrick said he had nothing to hide at Georgia.

"We'll answer every question," Harrick told Vitale. "Don't worry about it. I've been in this business 30 years. You don't survive by giving people money and doing people's work for them."

Adams, a longtime friend of Harrick's who was instrumental in bringing him to Georgia, distanced himself Wednesday. The president wouldn't even guarantee that Harrick will be allowed to coach in the Southeastern Conference tournament, which begins next week. The Bulldogs also are assured of an NCAA bid.

"I'm not listening right now to coach Harrick,'' Adams said. "I'm listening to reports I'm getting from the people who are doing the investigations. This is a hard time for me.''

Harrick said he regrets his recruitment of Cole, who attended at least five high schools and five junior colleges before coming to Georgia.

"Yeah, I admit that I've made some poor decisions in recruiting,'' Harrick said. "That's not a violation, though.''

Cole was suspended last season after being charged with sexual assault. Even though the charges were dropped, he wasn't reinstated to the team because of his disruptive influence, Harrick said.

"He had problems. He had nowhere to go, nothing to do,'' the coach said. "But the players didn't want him on the team, and the team comes first.''

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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