After UGA fires Danna Durante, three Gym Dogs she dismissed could return

Georgia’s Natalie Vaculik during the Gymdogs’ meet with Kentucky at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Photo by John Paul Van Wert)

ATHENS — Last week Danna Durante, in one of her last acts as Georgia’s gymnastics coach, dismissed three members of the program. But after Durante’s firing on Monday, that may not be the end of the story.

Those three gymnasts could return to the team if whoever is the new coach sees fit, athletics director Greg McGarity said on Wednesday.

“Yeah I think what we’ve told all of them, all of the student-athletes that have eligibility remaining, that the new coach would make those decisions,” McGarity said.

Natalie Vaculik, Caroline Bradford and Jasmine Arnold were dismissed for reasons Durante told The Red and Black were not related to discipline.

Bradford and Arnold were walk-ons. Vaculik was out for most of this year due to illness, the Red and Black reported, but had good freshman and sophomore seasons. None of the three were in the lineup for the team’s NCAA run.

McGarity demurred when asked if Durante’s firing and the dismissal of the three was somehow connected.

“There was not one particular situation that led to the decision,” McGarity said, also saying: “My only comment would be that I just felt like it was time to make a change. We’ll talk about that maybe some of it later once we name a new coach.”

Durante was Georgia’s coach for five seasons, with the team’s best finish being fifth at the NCAA championships. This year’s team finished 12th at the NCAA championship.

“Gymnastics is a tough sport to be the head coach in at the University of Georgia,” UGA president Jere Morehead said on Wednesday. “I want to commend our coach for her time at the University of Georgia but the legacy there of 10 national championships in gymnastics, and I think the athletic director made a decision that he needed to move in a different direction to get the program back to the highest level possible. So he made that call. That’s his call to make as an athletic director.”

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