ATHENS — In response to a report that Georgia was doing its “due diligence” on a replacement for Mark Fox, athletics director Greg McGarity released a statement Tuesday morning that not only sought to deny that, but indicated that Fox’s job will not be in jeopardy.
On Monday night, respected college sports writer Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports reported that Georgia was looking for potential replacements. Citing sources, Forde said Georgia was likely to go the mid-major coaching route for a replacement.
But McGarity’s statement directly refuted that, and went a step further in appearing to guarantee Fox would return for a ninth season.
“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,” McGarity said. “It’s unfortunate we need to respond at this time, but it was necessary to quiet these unfounded rumors.”
McGarity, as is his usual custom, has not commented publicly on Fox’s job status until now. It’s unusual for him to do so during the season, but the Yahoo report came at the start of a pivotal week for the team:
Georgia (18-13 overall) is on the NCAA tournament bubble – probably on the wrong side of it – as it enters the SEC tournament. It plays Tennessee on Thursday, and if it wins would play Kentucky.
The Yahoo report stated: “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.”
Behind the scenes, those around the program have said there has been silence on the subject, with no firm word either way. McGarity’s statement would seem to indicate that it is now a settled question.
Fox is wrapping up his eighth season at Georgia, and has three years remaining on his contract. He would be owed $1.7 million if fired after this season.
Fox has led Georgia to two NCAA bids in seven years, in 2011 and 2015. The Bulldogs have also gone to the NIT twice. If Georgia wins two more games, it would win 20 straight games for a fourth straight season, which is unprecedented in Georgia history. (However, the win totals have been almost exactly that number: 20, 21, 20 and currently 18.)