Tony Cole is like the “gift” that keeps on giving.
It wasn’t bad enough that this bad seed recruited by the Harricks spent much of his time in Athens in trouble and eventually brought his former coaches and the entire Georgia basketball program down early this decade. Since then, Cole’s rap sheet has continued to grow and now he’s back in the headlines, with a Cook County, Ill., official forced to resign after it was revealed she kept spending money to bail him out of jail before he was fired for not disclosing criminal convictions on his county government job application.
It’s those headlines that are particularly galling, because they naturally refer to him as an “ex-UGA player,” “former Bulldog,” “ex-UGA hoops star,” and so on. The guy was only associated with UGA for about a year and a half, and the program he helped destroy has served its time and started over. A couple of times. But we seemingly can’t get shed of the taint of Cole.
It’s a story that should prompt second, third and fourth thoughts for any coach considering taking on a “troubled” player with an arrest record as a reclamation project just because he might help notch a few wins.
It ain’t worth it.
At the other end of the spectrum are those UGA athletes who not only compete at the highest levels and stay out of trouble, but also excel in the classroom. A tip of the cap to senior gymnast Courtney Kupets, senior swimmer Kit French and the gymnastics team for receiving top honors at the annual University of Georgia Academic Roundtable Monday night at the Classic Center in Athens. Kupets and French were recognized as the UGA male and female winners of the SEC Boyd McWhorter Post Graduate Award, given in pursuit of a graduate degree, and the Gym Dogs won the Highest Team GPA Award for the 2007-2008 academic year with a 3.36 grade point average.
It’s just too bad that as they move on through life and no doubt build productive lives and careers that are a credit to their communities and the University of Georgia, we probably won’t see any headlines referring to these “ex-Bulldogs.”
Whereas I’d bet we haven’t seen the last of Tony Cole.