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Ga. Reinstates Thomas, Drops Cole

September 11, 2002

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ATHENS, Ga. (AP) _ Georgia junior forward Steven Thomas was reinstated to the basketball team on a probationary basis on Tuesday after rape charges against him were dropped.

Senior guard Tony Cole, however, will not be allowed to return to the team, coach Jim Harrick said.

Thomas’ reinstatement includes a three-game suspension to begin when the Bulldogs open the 2002-03 season Nov. 15 against Texas in New York. It will include the Nov. 23 home game against Belmont and a Nov. 27 contest at Georgia Tech.

Cole, Thomas and football player Brandon Williams, all 21, were suspended from their teams after being accused in the assault of a 19-year-old female student in Cole’s dormitory room in January. After Williams was acquitted of rape on Aug. 24, a charge of aggravated assault with intent to commit rape against Cole and a rape charge against Thomas were dropped.

Football coach Mark Richt reinstated Thomas on a probationary basis three days after his acquittal. He also was suspended for the first three games.

Thomas and Cole applied for reinstatement to athletic director Vince Dooley

``I feel the decision we made is appropriate in both cases,″ Harrick said.

In a separate incident, a Georgia student filed a criminal complaint against Cole, accusing him of assaulting her on Aug. 19 and making harassing telephone calls to her apartment.

The report said Cole threatened her and tried to punch and kick her during an argument in her car. He has not been charged in the case.

Cole’s lawyer, Steve Sadow, characterized the incident as a disagreement between the two.

``Not every disagreement or dispute between the sexes is a criminal matter,″ Sadow said. ``Men and women can settle their disputes without having to go to the legal authorities on every occasion.″

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