A significant part of the reason Mark Fox came to Georgia 16 months ago was his belief that UGA President Michael Adams and athletic director Damon Evans were committed to building a successful basketball program.
Fox expects that commitment to continue under Evans’ successor, Greg McGarity.
“He’s obviously very prepared for the position, and he’s passionate about Georgia,” Fox said. “And from my perspective, he’s also been at an institution [Florida] where basketball and football have co-existed at a very high level, and he understands that part of it. So I’m very excited.
“I was very impressed [by McGarity's news conference Friday], and I’m really glad we have an athletic director as the school year begins because I think not having one would have taken energy and focus away,” Fox said. “Now the kids, the coaches, the staff –- everyone — knows ‘this is the boss, here’s our new direction,’ and it’s going to make life easier for everybody.”
Florida won three national championships in football (1996, 2006 and 2008) and two in men’s basketball (2006 and 2007) while McGarity worked as a deputy to UF athletic director Jeremy Foley.
Fox had not met McGarity before Friday, but he’d heard scouting reports on the person who was rumored all along as probably the leading candidate to succeed Evans.
“I’ve had a ton of calls,” Fox said. “A lot of people have called me on his behalf; he’s very respected by the people of Georgia. And I talked to Billy Donovan [about McGarity] back in July” on the recruiting trail.
Fox and Donovan, Florida’s basketball coach, talked again on Friday morning.
“Billy was very grateful for the help that Greg gave him in 14 years,” Fox said.
Although off to a promising start, Fox’s job of building Georgia’s basketball program has barely begun. “We can’t do this without the help of the administration; that’s just not possible,” Fox said. “So I’m more excited about [McGarity's] experience in our sport.”
On a different matter, Fox said he was surprised the NCAA Eligibility Center ruled that Georgia signee Cady Lalanne did not meet academic requirements for initial eligibility.
“We didn’t anticipate it,” Fox said. “Our people thought everything was going to be fine.”
The ruling means Lalanne, a 6-8 forward from Orlando, will not be allowed to enroll at UGA this fall.
The loss of Lalanne leaves three players in Fox’s 2010 signing class: guard Sherrard Brantley and forwards Marcus Thornton and Donte Williams.