Greg McGarity issued an emphatic statement this morning refuting a report from Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde that Georgia is looking to replace basketball coach Mark Fox.
It’s important to note that Forde’s brief report last night never said that Fox has been fired, nor even that he likely would be fired. Forde merely said that Georgia is “gathering information on potential successors.” There’s no doubt that frustration exists among the Georgia fan base about a season which saw Georgia begin the year with its most talented lineup of the Fox era and essentially play itself out of the NCAA Tournament with a series of late season losses that ranged from the poorly coached to the poorly motivated.
But there’s no denying that the general trajectory of the program has been upward during Fox’s tenure. I haven’t been keeping a score sheet, but it’s been my impression that Forde doesn’t have the best record on breaking news coming out of Athens. I also find it a little unlikely that he would have scooped any number of UGA writers with far better connections inside Butts-Mehre. Add to that the fact that Georgia would owe Fox a $1.7 million buyout if he were terminated, and I’m inclined to believe that Mark Fox will likely be back in 2017-2018.
I wouldn’t however put it past McGarity to be compiling a list of possible names in case Georgia really does lay an egg in the SEC tournament and then a first round NIT game, or Fox decides that he’s interested in a fresh start somewhere other than Athens. These things happen, and prudent athletic directors have a plan in place before they do. But as frustrating as this season has been, there’s no arguing that Georgia basketball is more consistently good than it was under Dennis Felton or Ron Jirsa. If McGarity does make a change, and that change doesn’t wow fans from the get-go, fans would likely question anew the qualifications of an athletic director whose tenure has seen more success on the bank statement than on the field of play.