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Ga. Hires Basketball Coach Dennis Felton

April 10, 2003

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) _ Dennis Felton was hired Thursday as basketball coach at Georgia, entrusted with a program left in disarray by Jim Harrick.

Felton left Western Kentucky to join the Bulldogs with a five-year contract worth $700,000 annually.

He led the Hilltoppers to three straight NCAA tournament appearances and was 100-54 in five seasons. Before that, he worked as an assistant at Providence and Clemson.

``I think they’re getting the next great coach,″ Western Kentucky athletic director Wood Selig said. ``You hear a couple of names every year that burst on the national scene. I don’t think it will be very long before Dennis Felton will be mentioned everywhere among the nation’s finest men’s basketball coaches.″

Georgia wants to repair its image after Harrick left amid accusations of academic fraud and improper benefits to players.

Harrick resigned, then announced his retirement last month, 2 1/2 weeks after being suspended with pay. The scandal also cost his son a job as an assistant coach and prompted the school to ban the Bulldogs from the SEC and NCAA tournaments.

An investigation is ongoing and the school could face additional sanctions.

Georgia athletic director Vince Dooley had interviewed Dana Altman of Creighton and former Chicago Bulls coach Tim Floyd.

Felton is the second black coach in any sport at Georgia, following Tubby Smith, the basketball coach now at Kentucky.

Selig said a search for Felton’s replacement was under way, with university officials meeting Thursday.

``I would say this was a once-proud basketball program that had lost a lot of its luster and a lot of its prestige,″ Selig said. ``We had really fallen on hard times.″

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