ATHENS — Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity said his “support has not wavered” for men’s basketball head coach Mark Fox, while acknowledging a “mixed bag of opinions” about how this season went and the direction of the program.
The comments came in an interview published Tuesday on Georgiadogs.com, the school’s in-house web site.
McGarity already announced earlier this month that Fox would be returning for his ninth season. It came near the end of a disappointing 19-15 season, which ended with a first-round loss in the NIT. But McGarity pointed to an overall track record under Fox, citing five straight seasons now of being at least .500 in SEC play.
“We’ve got a winning foundation right now, a winning culture, because of our overall record and especially our SEC record. We just need to take the next step in our program,” McGarity said. “We’ve been to the NCAA Tournament twice (under Fox) and we know what it feels like and what it takes to get there. Now we just need to get to the point that we’re making consistent appearances.”
Last year McGarity met with the beat media after the season ended, along with Fox, to discuss the state of the program. This year McGarity declined interview opportunities about the same subject, other than his statement in early March.
Here are the three main questions in the interview, conducted by Georgiadogs.com writer John Frierson:
Frierson: What are your thoughts on this season, Coach Fox and the future?
McGarity: As I stated prior to the SEC Tournament, I am in support of Mark leading our team. My support has not wavered and our staff is fully focused on helping Coach Fox and the returning and incoming student-athletes prepare for the 2017-18 season.
With nine lettermen returning that experienced significant playing time last year, and a strong recruiting class joining them, we are in position to be very successful next year. We missed the signature wins this season and that hurt us with our postseason aspirations.
Moving forward, winning those games against top RPI teams will be pivotal. I know we’ll have a schedule that will provide these opportunities next season. Mark deserves credit for success in many areas of our program; we have a basketball staff and a group of young men that are committed to improvement in all areas of the program. Everyone associated with Georgia basketball is working hard to be more successful in elevating our program.
Frierson: What stands out to you about where the program is right now?
McGarity: What hits me is that we’ve been at .500 or better in the SEC for five consecutive seasons. The winning foundation has been set, has been established, with five straight years of SEC play at .500 or better, and now it’s time to take the next step into postseason play.
That’s everybody’s aspiration, not just Mark’s or our team’s; it’s everyone’s desire, and we’re no different, but we’ve got opportunities that we need to take advantage of next year.
We’ve got a winning foundation right now, a winning culture, because of our overall record and especially our SEC record. We just need to take the next step in our program. We’ve been to the NCAA Tournament twice and we know what it feels like and what it takes to get there. Now we just need to get to the point that we’re making consistent appearances.
Frierson: What do you say to the fans who might be wondering when that next step will occur?
McGarity: I appreciate the strong support of our basketball program by many of our fans, and I also acknowledge the disappointment expressed regarding our performance. I realize it’s a mixed bag of opinions but I know our staff is fully committed to doing everything possible to be successful in our program.