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Harrick’s Lights out in Georgia

March 5, 2003 Columns No Comments

Say Hello to the Bad Guys

by Jon Gonzalez

Peanut butter and jelly, peaches and cream, Jim Harrick and NCAA violations; some things were just meant to go together.

Coach Harrick is at it again. As we all remember, the Georgia head coach first soiled his name at UCLA. Harrick was fired by the Bruin brass due to allegations of lying about expense reports and sexual harassment, among other things. At Rhode Island, Harrick led the Rams back to respectability before leaving for the SEC’s Georgia (hmm, wonder if that sexual harassment lawsuit filed by that female in the athletic department had anything thing to do with Mr. Harrick’s departure?). The lawsuit was settled in February, but as soon as Harrick could say Tony Cole, Harrick was again accused of wrongdoing, along with his son, junior. Tony Cole. I bet coach Harrick didn’t think that guy would ultimately spell his apparent doom.

But before we all pick up our rocks and heave them in the direction of coach Harrick, let us first think about who the real villain is here:

In one corner, we have the coach who put the v in violation. He buys players dinners and TV’s, not to mention, sets them up in hotels out of his own pocket. If your lucky, he might have his son give you an A in a class that you never attended, ladies and gentlemen, he is accompanied by his son, junior, “Mr. Infraction” Jim Harrick.

In the other corner, we have the basketball player who just can’t say no to a freebie. He runs up phone bills and just will not get up to go to that eight o’clock class that he will get an A in anyway. He is so much trouble that not even Southern University will take him. Folks, meet “The Tattletale” Tony Cole.

Funny how Tony Cole finally figures out to do the right thing, only after he is disposed of by the system that gave him so much. Cole accepted money for phone bills and grades in classes like a blind sheep. But only after he takes advantage of his athlete status and gets kicked off the team for crossing the line (the rape charges against Cole were eventually dropped), then he is Mr. Conscience all of a sudden. With his basketball playing status at Georgia revoked, only then does Cole decide to reveal the evil underside of college basketball. Sounds a lot like a mobster getting pinched by the police and spilling his guts in a court. Only difference in this case is that Tony Cole had no apparent motive for spilling his guts. It’s not as if he the Feds had Cole up against a wall. Did Cole think that people would feel sorry for him? That his decision to talk would get him a chance to play somewhere else?

While it is still a positive that Jim Harrick’s dirty deeds are again revealed, it doesn’t mean that Tony Cole isn’t a rat. He betrayed the trust of anyone he ever played with and for. What coach would want Tony Cole playing for him now, after Cole did what he did? Lets face it, college basketball has a lot of dirty characters in it, so what goes on at Georgia may go on to a lesser degree at many other schools. No coach would want Cole to expose him, no way. If this was a high school recruit who said no to a car and ran to the press about what was offered to him and other things he observed, then that would be acceptable. The college basketball world needs more of those. But Cole accepted everything thrown his way, along with other teammates who allegedly did the same thing, and got in trouble for a rape allegation. The only reason he came out was because he was hurt and angry. If I go down, the Harricks are going with me. Noble gesture Cole, but in my opinion, you are still a rat. If you wanted to do the right thing, say something before you agree to go along with wrongdoing, not after.

Now, maybe you think that Cole’s track record proves that he shouldn’t even be trusted. Yes, with the type of person that Cole appears to be, him fabricating a story would not be out of the question. But also, with the type of trouble Harrick has gotten himself into before, it’s hard not to believe it.

Is this the time that coach Harrick finally hits the bricks and is exiled out of college basketball? After the all the allegations and lies and rumors, the coach may finally be done for good by one of his own. While it would be sad to see Harrick take the fall due to the admissions of a fellow shady individual, Harrick’s fall had to happen somehow. The coach is denying all wrongdoing in this case, and it may be that his son, junior, will be the scapegoat. But it is hard to trust a guy with such a track record. It is hard to trust a guy who has gotten into trouble wherever he has gone.

Even with all the underhandedness displayed by Cole and the Harricks, something good has to come out of all of this. This situation has to serve as a wake up call to all college basketball coaches and administrators. While it wouldn’t be the best thing to use as motivation, maybe a coach would stray away from buying a kid a car if he was weary that the kid would rat him out. Whatever the case, this garbage has to stop and it has to stop soon. It is becoming tiresome to see a game so pure and right getting tarnished by coaches and players doing anything they want.

At the end of the day, there are no hero’s in this story, just bad guys. Tony Cole and the Harricks are all villains. All three of them are wrong. Cole for going along with everything and finally opening his mouth when he was kicked to the curb, and the Harricks for bending the rules. If all that is said in this matter is proven to be true, neither of these three should be able to see a basketball court for a very long time.


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