Did Greg McGarity just guarantee Mark Fox is coming back?

Georgia head coach Mark Fox received a public vote of confidence for the first time from athletic director Greg McGarity. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity sought to end speculation about Mark Fox’s job security Tuesday following a report that the Bulldogs’ basketball coach was in trouble. But in doing so, he also seemed to say for the first time that Fox definitely will be back for another season.

Responding to a report by Yahoo Sports that Georgia is “exploring its options to replace Mark Fox,” McGarity issued a statement through the school’s sports information department, reading: “In response to the report by Yahoo Sports, we are NOT in the process of exploring our options to replace Mark Fox. We look forward to Mark leading our program next year and all of our efforts are centered on postseason play. It’s unfortunate we need to respond at this time, but it was necessary to quiet these unfounded rumors.”

There are a number of strange things about McGarity’s response, starting with this one: The story of Fox’s uncertain status has been out there for several weeks but McGarity has consistently deferred comment until after the season. What changed in the last 24 hours, other than a national media outlet weighing in?

The part of McGarity’s statement that stands out the most is, “We look forward to Mark leading our program next year…”

McGarity had never said that before.

He had never said anything before.

He could’ve put out a statement about not responding to rumors and the program being focused on this week’s SEC tournament in Nashville and that would’ve sufficed. But adding the part about Fox “leading our program next year,” appeared to settle the issue. If Fox was always safe, why wasn’t this stated before?

I emailed him Tuesday for clarification but he declined to amplify on the statement.

McGarity has continually declined all comment on Fox’s future, most recently from me two weeks ago.  It’s standard operating procedure for the athletic director to defer all comments about any coach until following their respective season. He did the same thing whenever former football coach Mark Richt came under fire.

Fox’s status was referenced by Yahoo’s Pat Forde in a column on the college basketball coaching carousel. The original version of the column, since updated, read: “Georgia is exploring its options to replace Mark Fox, according to sources. Fox has not been fired, but the school is gathering information on potential successors.” Forde went on to name potential replacements.

A report about Fox potentially being in trouble was not news. That the school would be gathering intel on potential successors wouldn’t be stunning because it’s normal for administrators to have a list of potential candidates, just on the chance a coach is fired.

If this was meant as a public vote of confidence by McGarity, it was a strange delivery. It’s possible McGarity wanted to settle the issue before this week’s SEC tournament. But why now as opposed to last week or the week before?

My position on Fox is the same: I believe he’s a good coach. He’s certainly a likable guy and is respected by his peers. But this year’s team has underachieved, relative to expectations. Georgia had the talent to be an NCAA tournament team but goes into the SEC tourney likely needing at least two wins to be considered for a berth. They play Tennessee in the first round Thursday and, if they win, would meet No. 1 seed and heavy favorite Kentucky on Friday.

As I wrote two weeks ago, for the first time Fox’s job should be in question. I’ve never endorsed his firing but for the first time I could understand if McGarity went in that direction.

Presumably, he’s not.

EARLIER: Howard is a problem but Schroder is Hawks’ biggest concern right now

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Reader Comments 0

37 comments
RFC49
RFC49

Schultz doesn't really think it's odd that McGarity responded to a Yahoo article, he's just mad that McGarity didn't respond to all his and Bradley's speculation that Fox would/should be fired.  The problem is that Schultz and Bradley think everybody should be fired.  Nobody listens to them any more, they're too predictable.  We know what they are going to write before they do.

AdmiralObvious53
AdmiralObvious53

Mediocrity Thy Name is Georgia.  And the rest of the SEC thanks you for keeping Mark Fox!  He's a heck of a guy!

mgunter
mgunter

Sarfdawg.......I was being facetious! Smart was terrible hire. McGarity is clueless as an AD.

POV1948
POV1948

"Endorse his firing?"  You and Bradley got inflated ideas of a sports hack's job.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@POV1948

Schultz and Bradley are paid to write their opinions--as are all sports columnists.

Educate yourself.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@ImaNitwit

Good advice, though--esp for a nitwit. Try it; you might like it.

58Supersports
58Supersports

Should have already been fired...

He is  a joke.

TOJacket
TOJacket

I like Mark Fox...I hope he stays.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

Most people like him. Unfortunately, that's not the issue at all.

bowman
bowman

Pat Forde is a twit, speculating without confirmation -- facts be damned -- and throwing names around for the purpose of drawing attention to himself. It is all about him, after all. Real journalists have two sources before reporting a "rumor". He probably doesn't have one source in Athens, much less two. Forde quit being a journalist when he got in bed with Rick Patino, which led the Louisville Courier-Journal to dismiss him from the newspaper. That was the day journalistic standards stopped for Forde.

Mulk
Mulk

@bowman Who hasn't been in bed with Patino?

mgunter
mgunter

Let Kirby run th basketball program in addition to th football program. Football program made great strides this year. Dawg fans are so silly, careful what you ask for.

sarfdawg
sarfdawg

@mgunter I'm sorry - Football did WHAT??? You have got to be kidding.  If anything, football brought up more questions than answers.  I usually don't pick on comments made by other people, but this is the most bizarre comment I've read in a long time.  The one thing we knew Smart could do is recruit, and he did well with that.  Beyond recruiting, we still don't have confirmation that he can coach his way out of a paper bag.  


As far as basketball goes, I'm about to give up. Clearly, no one of significance cares about the program reaching its potential.

Mulk
Mulk

@sarfdawg


Richt could recruit. UGAG recruits itself. Anybody that becomes a coach there will be able to recruit. As you and Coach Spurrier pointed out, what happens to all these highly recruited classes once they get there?

RFC49
RFC49

@Mulk @sarfdawg I seem to recall that a lot of the explanation we heard for the mediocre season the football team had was the poor quality of the talent inherited from Richt.  Of course, had Richt had the same results last season with the same talent he would have been blamed for not getting the best out of the fine talent he had. 

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

Apparently the excellence of University of Florida  athletics did NOT rub off on McGarity.


I know most had hoped it did.


Programs are mediocre 

Coaching is mediocre 

Facilities are mediocre




UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

The fact you are hanging on to this Coach....is absolute proof you are not committed to being the very best. 


Its obvious.   Even to the die hards.

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

Of course hes not.    Mediocrity is the Georgia Battle Cry.

FauxNewsAJC
FauxNewsAJC

I do not understand for the life of me why you, Mr. Shultz or Mr. Bradley, does not care to point out the simple fact of HOW MUCH talent this state has in basketball and how pathetic our roster is. I know, don't end a sentance with is. My point is, YOU CAN'T MAKE CHICKEN SALAD OUT OF CHICKEN, ya. 8 wins against top 25 teams in 8 years and 3 of those wins were Felton's players. Speaking of which, do you realize how much better talent wise our roster was with Felton? Fox cannot recruit. The reason is simply the crappy offensive, 1990 - Gary Williams offense we run. We are simply the Paul Johnson wing-T offense of the basketball world. I cannot stomach another year of mediocrity from our baseball and basketball programs. We've upped our standards Greg McGarity; UP YOURS. 

Mulk
Mulk

@FauxNewsAJC


Not a bad comparison to Coach Johnson's offense - they both average about the same number of points. So that you understand, that number ain't bad for football. Basketball? Maybe not.

Mulk
Mulk

@FauxNewsAJC


You know how you can judge talent in this state? Check how many STARTERS from the state of Ga. are on the teams of Kentucky, N. Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Villanova. Those teams are "allowing" you to keep ALL the rest knowing full well that you want beat the talent that they have assembled.