Thursday, March 13, 2003
Georgia players sue school
Hearing set for Monday - too late for tourneys
The Associated Press
ATHENS, Ga. - Two Georgia players sued Wednesday for the right to play in the conference and NCAA tournaments, but a judge quickly denied their request for a temporary restraining order.
The university pulled its team out of the tournaments Monday after an investigation showed evidence of academic fraud by players.
Starters Ezra Williams and Steven Thomas - who were not accused of wrongdoing - asked that the school be compelled to try to play in the tournaments. The suit names the school, its board of regents and athletics association.
Judge David Sweat denied the temporary restraining order but scheduled a hearing for Monday, according to his clerk, Sophia Tooten. That would be too late for Georgia, since the Southeastern Conference Tournament will end Sunday and the NCAA Tournament field will be announced later that day.
"The bracket we put out Sunday night is the bracket we intend to play Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the next week," NCAA Tournament selection committee chairman Jim Livengood said.
The NIT also selects its field Sunday, so it's unlikely the Bulldogs would have that option.
Williams, a senior, and Thomas, a junior, claim their ability to get NBA contracts will be hurt if they are denied the chance to play in the postseason. They also say the team was not given proper notice before the school withdrew from the tournaments, and by taking such action Georgia breached the terms of their scholarships.
More than 300 Georgia basketball fans dressed in red and black rallied outside the university's administration building Wednesday afternoon to support the basketball players.
"When I first came in and saw all the people, it almost brought tears to my eyes," junior guard Jarvis Hayes said after the rally.
Hayes, along with his brother Jonas and guard Damien Wilkins, showed up about 30 minutes after the rally began. Fans have proposed the team play in an exhibition after spring break.
Georgia (19-8, 11-5 SEC) was likely to receive a third straight invitation to the NCAA Tournament. But Monday, school president Michael Adams and athletic director Vince Dooley announced that the No. 21 Bulldogs' season was over because two players committed academic fraud in a class taught by coach Jim Harrick's son.
Dooley said the school has found no evidence that Harrick was directly involved. Jim Harrick Jr., an assistant coach, was fired last week.
MAC AWARDS: Chris Kaman was selected player of the year and Jay Smith was named top coach as Central Michigan swept the Mid-American Conference individual honors in media balloting.
Kaman, a junior, led the league in field goal percentage (63.4) and in blocked shots (84), and was second in scoring (22.5 ppg) and rebounds (12.2 rpg).
Smith led Central Michigan to the regular-season league title, turning around a program from a 9-19 record last season to a 21-6 mark this season.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: Center Mario Austin plans to return for his senior season.
The 6-foot-9 junior, who is averaging 15.6 points and 7.9 rebounds this season, cited two reasons for not entering the NBA draft: a chance to earn his diploma and a switch to power forward.
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C-USA Tournament Glance
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XU right at home in UD Arena
West again A-10 player of year
Dayton finally gets to play
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Today's basketball schedule
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