Thursday, May 8th, 1997

Rhode Island Hoops Hires Harrick

Yes, that's a disgusting headline, but sometimes I can't help myself. Alliteration may be a tool of the untalented writer, but even I have been known to go slumming once in a while...

For the Rhode Island Rams basketball fans, I've got good news and bad news. The good news is, your new coach won a national championship. The bad news is, he was fired from his last job for lying on an expense report.

The Rams hired former UCLA coach Jim Harrick to replace Al Skinner, who skipped away on April 17th to go coach Boston College of the (snort) mighty Big East Basketball Conference. I guess Skinner was bored of whipping the Hokies and wanted to move on to bigger and better things.

In Harrick, Rhode Island has landed a proven winner, a coach who won the national championship with the Bruins in 1996. But he comes with some baggage, because he was fired from UCLA prior to last season. The school cited Harrick with violations of the NCAA ethics code after receiving results of an internal investigation. On Oct. 11, a recruiting dinner was attended by five current student-athletes while only three recruits were present, a violation of NCAA rules.

To cover up that violation, Harrick filed an expense report the following week that misrepresented the dinner guests, a violation of both school and NCAA policy. The school claimed that Harrick did this on more than one occasion and "encouraged misrepresentation by another member of the basketball program." After UCLA officials confronted Harrick with details of the dinner from outside sources, he admitted he misled the school. After that, it was "Hit the road, Jim."

I think Rhode Island got Harrick relatively cheap, given that he has coached a national championship team. His contract, including salary and incentives, was reported to be anywhere between $250k and $350k per year. Yes, that's pricey, but it's not a whole lot more than Tech's coaches are known to get. I don't have the figures, but I'm guessing that Tech was paying Bill Foster somewhere in the low $100's, and with other incentives, it probably brought the total contract up to around $200k. If anybody knows for sure, post it on the message board.

For any Hokie fans who are looking for "fuel for the fire," consider one of Harrick's comments upon being hired: "The challenge of competing in the Atlantic 10 and facing (John) Chaney, (Mike) Jarvis, (Skip) Prosser and UMass is exciting."

Okay, so maybe we didn't do anything last year to earn his respect, but that tells you that in years prior, Harrick wasn't paying much attention to the 1995 NIT champs and the 1996 Western Division A-10 champs. Give him about three or four years. He'll know what a Hokie is then.


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