If you wonder why I can’t wait for the door to finally close on the Michael Adams era in Athens, let me take you back to the man’s reminiscence of the Harrick hire.
“I said to coach Dooley, ‘Would you like for me to get Jim Harrick in the pool,” Adams said. “He said, ‘Yes. I think the better the pool, the better.’ We interviewed three finalists. Coach Dooley made a recommendation to me for whatever reasons. I think, and still think, that he and coach Harrick got along very well.”
Dooley’s first choice was then Delaware coach Mike Brey, who turned down the chance and eventually landed at Notre Dame. Harrick won the national title at UCLA in 1995 but was fired the next year over expense reports from a recruiting dinner that violated NCAA rules.
“Ultimately on decisions on the head basketball coach and the football coach, I make the decision only from the standpoint of that was my recommendation to the president,” Dooley said.
Adams said Dooley recommended Harrick twice, the second time after Harrick decided he wanted to stay at Rhode Island before changing his mind.
“I think the AD was involved in the hiring, he played the lead role in hiring Jim Harrick, not once but twice,” Adams said. “I think that I can document all that.”
Adams still calls Harrick “one of the best final-two-minute coaches that I’ve ever seen, and I know enough about basketball to know the difference. I regret what happened to him, but he made mistakes here at a level that would have made it impossible to stay whether I was making that decision or coach Dooley was making that decision. It was just obvious to both of us.”
That wasn’t the only obvious decision Adams and Dooley made about Harrick.
Now keep in mind that Harrick’s career wasn’t exactly a mystery at that time. He’d already been canned at UCLA – after winning a national title – for falsifying expense reports and asking others to lie about that and at Rhode Island managed to raise a few eyebrows by letting Lamar Odom on to the team after Odom’s departure from UNLV. But nobody at Georgia thought it was wise to pick up the phone and make a couple of calls to get some more background on the guy.
That’s basically how you wind up a few years later with an academic fraud scandal on your hands. Too bad nobody judged Adams by the same standard he judged Harrick.