Judge Dismisses Coaches' Defamation Lawsuit Against U. of Georgia

May 16, 2006

A federal judge has dismissed nearly all of a defamation lawsuit against the University of Georgia filed by two former men’s basketball coaches there, according to an Associated Press article.

Jim Harrick, the head men’s coach at Georgia from 1999 to 2003, and Jim Harrick Jr., an assistant coach who is his son, were fired by Georgia officials after an NCAA investigation found that the son had provided fraudulent grades in a class he taught (The Chronicle, March 11, 2003, and March 28, 2003). The university was later punished by the NCAA for that and other rules violations during the Harricks’ time as coaches at Georgia (The Chronicle, August 6, 2004).

The former coaches believed that university officials had defamed them during the NCAA investigation, but a judge in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta ruled that they had failed to prove their case. The judge dismissed all parts of their lawsuit but the younger Mr. Harrick’s assertion that the NCAA had defamed him.

The elder Mr. Harrick lost his job at UCLA in 1996 after lying on an expense report (The Chronicle, November 15, 1996). Later, as the head coach at the University of Rhode Island, where he coached before taking the job at Georgia, he was accused of changing players’ grades and helping boosters give cash to players.