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Technical foul-up

National | Some University of Georgia basketball players tried taking their game to the court of law.

Issue: "Truth or CAIR," March 22, 2003

Some University of Georgia basketball players tried taking their game to the court of law. They say it's unfair that the school withdrew its men's basketball team from postseason tournaments after finding that three players committed academic fraud in a class taught by coach Jim Harrick's son.

Innocent members of the Bulldogs lost a legal bid to force the school to reverse its decision prior to the release of the NCAA's tournament pairings. The No. 21 Bulldogs were a lock before the scandal broke. Perhaps reasoning they could stave off any tougher sanction by the NCAA by punishing themselves quickly, Georgia athletic officials took the extreme action.

"It's not fair, man," said Fred Gibson, a backup guard. "We didn't do anything wrong." Former player Tony Cole sparked the case after he was kicked off the team last year. He accused Jim Harrick Jr. of paying his bills, doing schoolwork, and teaching a sham class on coaching. Mr. Cole also said he used the elder Harrick's credit card to buy a television and received money from a booster.

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The news caps a flurry of scandals in men's college basketball, including suspensions of 12 players for using a school access code to make phone calls at Villanova; forfeits of six wins and boycotts of two other games at St. Bonaventure; and claims by a former student that he wrote papers for players for payment at Fresno State.

"I think the system is working," said NCAA president Myles Brand, putting a positive spin on all the troubles. "The appropriate actions were taken."

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