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Bulldogs suspend Harrick, end year

Georgia suspended coach Jim Harrick with pay and withdrew from the SEC and NCAA tournaments Monday after an internal investigation showed three players took a bogus class taught by his son.

Harrick's future is unclear while the school and NCAA look into allegations brought two weeks ago by a former player.

"The evidence and the findings presented to us indicated there was academic fraud," athletic director Vince Dooley said. "There's no evidence at all that Coach Harrick knew about what took place."

No. 21 Georgia was a lock to receive a third straight NCAA Tournament invitation, which would have been the longest streak in school history.

The Bulldogs (19-8, 11-5) were to play Arkansas on Thursday in the league tournament in New Orleans. Instead, the SEC altered its brackets, giving Tennessee a first-round bye and scheduling three games instead of four on the opening day.

Arkansas, which was scheduled to play Georgia at 8:45 p.m. Thursday, will play LSU at 2:15 p.m. that day, the SEC announced.

NCAA president Myles Brand commended Georgia president Michael Adams for addressing the allegations less than two weeks after they were made public.

The news caps a spate of scandals in men's college basketball, including:

Suspensions of 12 players for using a school access code to make phone calls at Villanova.

Forfeits of six wins and boycotts of two other games at St. Bonaventure.

Claims by a former student that he wrote papers for players for payment at Fresno State.

"I think we are starting to see a very important trend. I think the system is working," Brand said. "The appropriate actions were taken."

Adams said a decision on Harrick's fate would be made after the investigation is complete.

"Sports is really a very nice, usually, sideline to our main function here," he said. "The main issue to me is to ensure you deal with the academic integrity of the place. Deal with the one course where there is questionable activity, correct it, and move forward."

Reached at his home, Harrick declined to discuss his suspension.

Junior reserve Damien Wilkens complained that players were not told of the decision before it was announced, calling it "unprofessional" and "unfair."

Tony Cole, kicked off the Bulldogs last year, accused Harrick and his son, an assistant coach, of breaking NCAA rules. Cole said Jim Harrick Jr. paid his bills, did schoolwork and taught a sham class on coaching. Harrick Jr. was fired Wednesday.

Hokies fire coach

Ricky Stokes was fired as Virginia Tech's coach two days after the Hokies failed to qualify for the Big East tournament for the third straight season.

"This is a very difficult decision for me, personally, as I have the highest regard for Ricky as a person," said athletic director Jim Weaver, who gave Stokes his first head-coaching job in March 1999.

Stokes was 45-70 in four seasons.

COLUMBIA: Coach Armond Hill was fired two days after his team finished 2-25, the worst season in the school's 103-year history. Hill was 72-141 during his eight seasons.

FSU: Junior guard Tim Pickett was named second team All-ACC. He averages 16.9 points and 5.6 rebounds. James Collins in 1997 was the last Seminole to be so highly honored. Pickett, the ACC leader in steals, also earned a spot on the all-defensive team.

NEW ORLEANS: The school will lose about $45,000 from the Sun Belt's NCAA Tournament revenue because its nonconference opponents included too many with low ratings.

ST. BONAVENTURE: After a scandal abruptly ended the team's season, the head of the board of trustees vowed there would be "no coverup" of why an ineligible athlete was allowed to play. "When all the facts are known, we will better know the specific actions we will take for the future," William Swan told about 800 students.

USF: Senior center Will McDonald was named to the All-Conference USA third team. McDonald helped the Bulls to a 14-13 regular-season record, leading in scoring (16.0 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg). The No. 10-seed Bulls play No. 7 DePaul in the C-USA tournament at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Louisville.

TENNESSEE: Starting guard Jon Higgins was ruled academically ineligible for postseason play when his appeal to the Southeastern Conference was turned down. A senior math major, Higgins was ruled ineligible for failing to pass at least six hours in the fall.

WASHINGTON ST.: Paul Graham was fired as coach after a season in which the Cougars went 7-20 and won two Pac-10 games. In four seasons, Graham was 31-79 overall and 9-63 in the conference.

_ Times staff writers Brian Landman and Pete Young contributed to this report.

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