ATHENS — The Georgia basketball season has ended along with the tenure of head coach Mark Fox.
Georgia players elected not to participate in the NIT if they were to receive an invite, according to Fox, who addressed the media about his firing Sunday, one day after the dismissal was announced.
Fox said it was the players’ decision. He told them he would be willing to coach the team if it received an NIT bid, and then the players made the decision on their own.
“I gave them the choice of whether they wanted me to coach in the NIT,” Fox said.
The decision means the end of the college career for senior forward Yante Maten, this year’s SEC Player of the Year, as well as starting small forward Juwan Parker, who was with the program for five years.
“I told them that if they wanted me to coach I would coach, if they didn’t want me to coach I wouldn’t coach,” Fox said. “Yante asked me to leave the room, and they had a meeting, and they have elected not to participate in that. Which is obviously their decision.”
Parker, through a team spokesman, confirmed Fox’s version of how the NIT decision was reached.
Georgia finishes with an 18-15 overall record. It will be the first season without an NIT or NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013.
In his parting words to his team, Fox said he also had a message about their future with the new coach.
“I told them that nobody should transfer,” Fox said. “I told them that nobody on our team as an issue, or issues as we leave, and that they shouldn’t create issues for the new coach when he comes in. And I talked to them about making sure they finish their educations, and how hard they’re going to need to work, and I still believe in them. I had a very honest conversation about how I will always expect them to function.”
It wasn’t mentioned whether Jordan Harris, a sophomore guard, was part of the meeting. Harris was suspended indefinitely midway through the season and did not return to the team. The reason for his suspension was not given, and his future remains cloudy.