Thursday, April 3, 2003

Wilkins interviews for Georgia job

Ex-Bulls coach Floyd gets first crack

By Paul Newberry
The Associated Press

ATLANTA - Dominique Wilkins wants to coach in the NBA. He might be willing to go back to school if his alma mater calls.

The former Atlanta Hawks star interviewed with Georgia athletic director Vince Dooley on Tuesday, a day after ex-Chicago Bulls coach Tim Floyd talked with the Bulldogs.

Georgia also has received permission to interview Mercer coach and Georgia alumnus Mark Slonaker, along with Western Kentucky coach Dennis Felton.

The 46-year-old Slonaker played at Georgia from 1976-79 and was an assistant coach under Hugh Durham from 1989-95. This season, he directed the biggest one-year turnaround in NCAA history as the Bears went 23-6 after finishing 6-23 the previous season.

Georgia is seeking to replace Jim Harrick, who resigned last week amid accusations of improper payments to players and academic fraud.

"I've got to look at that job," Wilkins said Wednesday. "It's my old alma mater."

Wilkins is now a special assistant with the Hawks, sitting on the bench during home games, attending most practices and working on the individual development of players.

His primary goal is to become an NBA head coach, but he conceded that Georgia's opening was intriguing.

"If it's the right situation," Wilkins said. "A lot of damage control has to be done. But it definitely arouses my interest."

Wilkins, who was known as the "Human Highlight Film" because of his spectacular dunks, is considered a long shot because he lacks coaching experience and a college degree.

Another obstacle: Wilkins acknowledged in 1985 that he received $30,000 in secret payments from sports agent Jack Manton while he was still playing at Georgia, a violation of NCAA rules.

The 43-year-old Wilkins scored a school-record 23.6 points per game for the Bulldogs in 1980-81. He left Georgia in 1982 after his junior year.

The Hawks acquired his draft rights from the Utah Jazz, and he went on to play more than 11 seasons in Atlanta.

Wilkins, a nine-time All-Star, scored 26,668 points during his 15-year career - ninth-most in NBA history.

Floyd, 49, has not coached since December 2001, when he resigned from the Bulls after a 49-190 record. Floyd, who was hired away from Iowa State, had the unenviable task of succeeding Phil Jackson, who was coach of the Michael Jordan-led teams that won six titles.

Georgia officials have declined to comment on the search process, other than to say they would like to have a new coach in place shortly after the upcoming Final Four weekend.

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