Power 16
Mid-Major Top 10
Cinderella Watch
Fans Poll Top 25
D-III Tournament
Message Board

ESPN Auctions
Tuesday, March 4
Updated: March 6, 10:50 AM ET
Harrick Sr. talks with ESPN's Dick Vitale


Georgia coach Jim Harrick Sr. has been defending himself, his son and his program against allegations made by former Bulldogs player Tony Cole.

Georgia is investigating violations alleged in an ESPN report Thursday by Cole that Harrick provided the guard with improper benefits and academic assistance.

Harrick's son, Georgia assistant basketball coach Jim Harrick, Jr., was suspended Friday while Georgia and the NCAA conduct their investigation.

ATHENS, Ga. -- I would love to have been here just to broadcast a basketball game between two ranked teams -- and what a game it was, as No. 25 Georgia edged No. 3 Florida 82-81 on ESPN's Super Tuesday.

But instead of simply talking basketball, a big topic of conversation here in Athens is former Georgia player Tony Cole, and his allegations regarding the Bulldogs program. I was able to spend some time with Georgia coach Jim Harrick Sr. in his office on Tuesday afternoon.

Harrick agreed to sit down for an exclusive interview (which you can read here in its entirety). It was interesting to listen to his answers on a variety of topics regarding Cole's numerous charges.

I feel bad for the Georgia players. This has to be a distraction, but these kids are resilient. This situation affects the team's preparation. For instance, Chris Daniels and Rashad Wright were pulled off the practice court Monday and interrogated by investigators.

Harrick said that he hadn't personally prepared for the Florida or Kentucky games. His time has been consumed by phone calls and defending himself. So his staff has worked on the game plans.

Meanwhile, we need to let the investigation play out. Let's allow the system to figure this mess out. Let all the interviews take place, let the investigators to their job and get to the bottom of this. And as we wait, let's not rush to judgment.

Harrick Sr. discussed the recent events, and the effects of the allegations, with ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale on Tuesday. You can watch this interview on ESPNEWS and on Tuesday night's SportsCenters (ESPN 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET).

Here is a full transcript of the exclusive interview between Vitale and Harrick Sr.:

Vitale: Tony Cole, the former player, has made some serious allegations. First thing I would like you to address is ESPN showing a Western Union receipt for $300, sent to an Eva David by a Jim Harrick. It looked like it came from your son. How do you explain this?

Jim Harrick Sr.: Dick, I have talked to the NCAA and our people and it will all come out, I guarantee it will all come out. I want to do it with class and dignity and I want them to look at every allegation, we will answer everything. I will tell you, the bad thing is people jump to conclusions ... Wait 'til the facts come out and everything will be fine.

Vitale: Now the $300 was sent, bottom line.

Harrick Sr.: It will all come out, I know exactly what's going on. We talked to them yesterday and explained everything to them and you will see it come out and it will be right.

Vitale: How do you explain the statement that you made to the (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) about the fact that the money came from the Dale Brown Foundation? Dale Brown says no way did it come from his foundation.

Harrick Sr.: That is a mistake by a writer from the Atlanta Journal.

Vitale: You never said that?

Harrick Sr.: I never said that. This guy wants to scoop everybody. He wrote that, I told Dale, I told everybody it wasn't true. You can't believe everything you read.

Vitale: I know you are limited in what you can say and the legal ramifications. What about the academic situation? A kid goes to Lincoln Trail Junior College. While he is there, he gets D's. All of a sudden he takes correspondence classes and gets A's and alleges your son took the classes for him and did the work.

Harrick Sr.: Dick, I graduated 32 of 33 at Pepperdine, 23 of 27 at UCLA, eight of eight at Rhode Island. And 10 out of 12 since we have been here, which the academic people should get credit for. Next year, we have five out of six graduating. We don't do players' work for them.

Vitale: So you are saying your son never did any work for them?

Harrick Sr.: We would never do that. You have to consider the source.

Vitale: Obviously, he has a checkered background that was evident in today's paper. The Atlanta paper ran an article that documented people he had lived with in the past. They came out stating that he can be a little vindictive. But he has made no bones about it. He is very upset at everything that has transpired here, but he claims that everything he said was the truth. I want to know about the class he was registered for, Phys. Ed. department, your son teaching it. He claims your son told him never to come to class it is at 8 a.m. in the morning, you'll get an 'A' for it. He claims he got an 'A' and never went to class.

Harrick Sr.: No, the attendance record shows he was there. The (teacher's assistant) had all those things covered. They talked to everyone about the class. They talked to my players about that class. They talked to football and track players about the class and I think everything will be fine.

Vitale: And they have seen him in class?

Harrick Sr.: Yes.

Vitale: What about all the hotels and the money?

Harrick Sr.: That will all come out. I don't want to talk about it, but it will all come out.

Vitale: Since you don't want to address this and I know it is tough because we have had a relationship for many a year. I know your wife Sally well and our families are close. It puts me in a tough situation, but these are things that have to be answered. What about now, the University of Rhode Island allegations coming out.

Harrick Sr.: OK, OK, I have been gone four years from Rhode Island. Never had a phone call, never had a letter, I never had anything that was said from Rhode Island that wasn't positive. We had a great run there.

Vitale: They didn't tell you about any harassment suit?

Harrick Sr.: They told me about nothing.

Vitale: Supposedly, there was a settlement for $45,000 with the university with a former secretary Christine King.

Harrick Sr.: That's the first I have ever heard about it Dick. We built a building; attendance was up, the applications for admissions were up. This is all the things I have heard from Rhode Island. I never heard one thing.

Vitale: You never knew about any allegations concerning fraudulent bills in terms of hotels? About giving players money? About academic fraud that she supposedly alleges in her suit?

Harrick Sr.: No on ever said a word to me about it. This was the first I've ever heard about it when I saw it in the paper.

Vitale: Weren't you upset about it?

Harrick Sr.: Well certainly I'm upset about it. Why wouldn't they call me and tell me if it was something. But no one's ever called me and said anything.

Vitale: You have not spoken to the athletic director?

Harrick Sr.: I've spoken to him one time about a month ago. He said 'Jim, something happened but we've taken care of it. Don't worry about anything.

Vitale: What happened?

Harrick Sr.: I don't know. I didn't even ask him what happened. I didn't even ask him what it was. One of my friends from Rhode Island called me today. She mentioned that she had something from the university. She mentioned many guys -- coaches that were there before I was there.

Vitale: Is this Christine King?

Harrick Sr.: Yes.

Vitale: But they had a settlement with her according to the papers, for $45,000.

Harrick Sr.: But I don't know anything about it. You've got to find out from somebody else because I know nothing about that.

Vitale: That's mind-boggling.

Harrick Sr.: It is mind-boggling, Dick. But no one ever informed me of anything.

Vitale: What else would you like to say? Obviously we've read everything that Tony Cole has had to say. What would Jim Harrick like to say on his behalf, because obviously these are serious allegations. I know you have to prepare for Kentucky and Florida. But these are serious allegations that could lead to the end of a coaching career. What would you basically like to say in terms of defending yourself?

Harrick Sr.: Dick, I have nothing to hide. It'll all come out. I told the NCAA everything. I documented everything. Any kind of credit card, any kind of anything. They'll find that there's absolutely nothing.

Vitale: What about the statement that he made that you gave him a credit card to buy a television at Circuit City and if you look at the statement, you'll see it there?

Harrick Sr.: And I went over there, and I got a statement of everything my wife and I have ever bought at Circuit City in the four years that I've been in this town, and I handed it to our lawyer yesterday.

Vitale: Was there a television on there?

Harrick Sr.: There was absolutely not a television on there. There was in '99 when we first moved here and it's a real nice one. It's in my living room. But it's not one that was from him. Dick, everybody in this town knows me, and they know him. For him to have my credit card, just think: how ludicrous do you think that is? Just think of the source of this whole thing. He's a vindictive young man. The article pointed it out today. Everyone who's ever tried to help out Tony Cole, he has victimized in the end. And the writers are talking to these people and they'll find out the truth. The truth will come out and it's very sad for my family and I. I have three sons and three daughter-in-laws and your organization, ESPN, picked this perfect moment. They've had it since October, they picked now to run it. Jeremy Schaap waited behind the wall and jumped out.

Vitale: He claims he tried to contact you over the phone.

Harrick Sr.: He contacted our sports information department, and because there's a police thing in this town on Tony Cole, we're not allowed to talk about that and we relayed that to him. We're very profession about it and he unscrupulously stalked me out and hid behind a wall. Now Dick, what kind of journalism is that? Now Dick, this is sports!

Vitale: But he had some serious documentation. A receipt from Western Union signed by your son.

Harrick Sr.: We'll answer every question. I don't worry about it.

Vitale: Last question: Can you look me in the eye, we've been friends a lot of years. When this is all said and done, that Jim Harrick and Jim Harrick Jr. will be vindicated of all these charges by Tony Cole?

Harrick Sr.: Absolutely. I can look you right in the eye and tell you. Dick, I've been in this business for 30 years. You don't survive by giving people money, by doing people's work for them. I'll end with one thing: Get to any of my players at Pepperdine, at UCLA, at Rhode Island, at Georgia, and ask any, any player if we've ever, ever given them money, if we've ever done anything for them. Jarvis Hayes lives in a dorm, does not have a car, has no clothes and no money. And I rest my case.

Vitale: Changing the subject, you've got Florida, Kentucky, What does this do to your preparation for two of the most potent opponents you'll face all year?

Harrick Sr.: I haven't prepared at all for either one of them.

Vitale: You haven't prepared at all?

Harrick Sr.: Personally. My staff has, but I haven't.

Vitale: Kids are resilient and they'll come to play?

Harrick Sr.: They'll come to play.

Vitale: How are the players handling all this?

Harrick Sr.: I think it's been a distraction for them, they're looking around, but they know Tony Cole, our hoop girls, they know Tony Cole, 60 strong. They've come to me in unison. Our fans, everybody in Athens have been unbelievably supportive of me Dick, because they know.

Vitale: The one other question I forgot to ask is the allegation of the booster Michael Young, about giving cash.

Harrick Sr.: I know Michael Young really well and that just didn't happen. I talked to my boosters, the guys in my tip-off club, and it's not true. I'll tell you one thing, he's reached out, he's been a friend to Tony Cole. And it goes back to the article, everybody who's tried to help him, he's been vindictive, and it's really sad. It's sad, sad case.

Vitale: I want to thank you really. I know this is a tough time, for you to come on here on the day of a game.

Harrick Sr.: There's times Dick when you've got to defend yourself. And I'm not going to sit here and let people attack my family and I because it's wrong. It's wrong. Evil shall not win out in this case.

 More from ESPN...
Harrick raises possibility of 'minor' violations at Georgia
As widening allegations of ...

Rhode Island conducting investigation of Harricks
The University of Rhode ...

Report: Harrick admits son paid Cole's phone bill
Former University of Georgia ...

 Set It Straight
Jim Harrick talks to ESPN's Dick Vitale about the allegations made by Tony Cole.
Standard | Cable Modem

 ESPN Tools
Email story
Most sent
Print story
Daily email