Pope, the former Kentucky and NBA player who joined the UGA staff in a non-coaching capacity last year, is expected to become an assistant coach at Wake Forest any day now.
There were whispers at the UGA Tipoff Club’s end-of-season banquet Thursday night that Pope had accepted an assistant’s job at Wake Forest, and the Winston-Salem Journal reports the announcement will come next week “after he completes Wake Forest’s hiring process.”
Pope was not in attendance at the Georgia banquet.
“Mark has done a phenomenal job for us,” Georgia coach Mark Fox told the audience.
Pope was in his third year of medical school at Columbia when he persuaded Fox to hire him last year as operations coordinator, a $35,000-a-year staff position. That job, as detailed by colleague Steve Hummer in this excellent article on Pope earlier this year, is to handle “the smallest details for the Bulldogs, anything from socks to jocks to keeping the student managers on task.”
Pope, 37, played on Kentucky’s 1996 NCAA championship team and six seasons in the NBA. He played for Jeff Bzdelik, the new Wake Forest coach, when Bzdelik was head coach of the Denver Nuggets.
“I’m excited about next year’s team,” said Fox, who added: “But I think I’ll temper my excitement until we can get all the pieces we want to add.”
Fox has two scholarships still available –- and would be willing to use both this spring. “For the right two guys, we would,” he said.
Fox, of course, can’t comment on specific recruits. But Georgia, as you know, is prominently in the mix for Los Angeles’ Dwayne Polee and Westlake’s Marcus Thornton.