The NCAA said on June 3 that it will return one scholarship to the men’s basketball program for each of the next three years, starting this fall. However, the Division I Infractions Appeals Committee upheld the four-year probation penalty against the program.
The scholarships were initially taken away as punishment for rules violations under former coach Jim Harrick Sr. An NCAA investigation found Jim Harrick Jr., an assistant on his father’s staff, violated rules regarding recruiting inducements, unethical conduct, academic fraud and extra benefits.
In a separate appeal related to the case, the committee affirmed five findings of violations by Harrick Jr. and upheld the seven-year show-cause order against him. The committee did overturn the finding that Harrick Jr. provided extra benefits to athletes for having three basketball players in a basketball course he taught.
The committee reversed the financial aid reduction because of actions already taken by UGA officials before the announcement of NCAA penalties. As the investigation into possible violations was under way in spring 2003, UGA allowed prospective athletes who had signed national letters of intent to be released from their commitments. The result was the loss of four prospective athletes.
“As a result, during the 2003-04 academic year, Georgia had only seven men’s basketball student-athletes on scholarship. Thus, the university’s decision in spring 2003 to release the prospects constituted a powerful self-imposed penalty that seriously affected its men’s basketball program,” the committee said in its report.
“This is exciting news for our basketball program,” says Dennis Felton, men’s basketball coach. “Once and for all, we can put this episode behind us and move forward in the building of our great program at Georgia.”