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April 2, 2014
Fox gets extension
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Mark Fox is getting a new contract after all.
On Wednesday, Bulldog athletic director Greg McGarity announced that the UGA Athletic Association had decided to extend Fox's current deal two years through 2017-18.
Financial details were not discussed.
Fox's old deal - which was scheduled to pay him $1.7 million through the 2015-2016 season - was signed following his second year with the program.
In a press conference with beat writers, McGarity had this to say about the timing.
"I think it was important for a number of reasons, because you're on the recruiting trail and after 20 wins I think it was important for people to know this," McGarity said. "This was a really good year. We didn't reach all the expectations that we wanted to from the NCAA standpoint but 20 wins I think, sets the table for us next year and I think there's a lot of momentum building toward that. We just thought it was the right thing to do at this point in time."
McGarity said he waited until the season was entirely over before coming to this conclusion.
"Yeah, after the NIT tournament. You wait until the end of the year, that's what you do. You obviously keep up with it during the year. You look at things. But that's why you don't jump into decisions and make decisions halfway through the year. I certainly wasn't going to say anything during the season to mess things up. It's better for the AD to just be quiet. Don't mess it up. I didn't want to insert myself into an area that needed no comment at that time. Things were rolling in a fine fashion and I just didn't want to get in the way."
But despite this year's success -which saw the Bulldogs tie Kentucky for second in the SEC, advance to the NIT and win 20 games for the second time in his Georgia tenrue - Fox has not been without his critics.
Despite recruiting and signing former McDonald's All-American Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Fox has been criticized for not being able to consistently recruit the state's better players to Athens.
This year the Bulldogs have two scholarships available with the graduation of Donte Williams and transfer of John Cannon and hope to fill those two spots later this month after missing out earlier on top in-state targets like Jakeenan Gant (Missouri) and Tadric Jackson (Georgia Tech).
McGarity said he spoke with Fox in-depth about recruiting and his plans moving forward.
"We need to recruit at a very high level, because you have to continually kind of restock every year. That's a very important point, and we did talk about talk as well as other things," McGarity said. "But needless to say sometimes that is the elephant in the room. We realize what needs to be done, but our staff stands ready to assist in any way."
McGarity could not say if the lack of recent recruiting success has caused Fox frustration.
"You'd have to ask Mark that question, but I'm sure there are some misses that disappoints him throughout. You work so hard on certain individuals throughout the year and things don't turn out your way, sure it gets frustrating. It's not due to a lack of trying. I can assure you that," he said. "But that's probably a question better asked (of) Mark. We just have to provide the resources. We have to provide all the tools necessary to make it all happen. And then it's up to the coach. We're able to help with official visits, setting things up, transportation, all those type things as far as providing the financial resources to make it happen. So I couldn't answer that. Mark would be able to answer that better than I."
Although Fox was not immediately available for comment, McGarity said that he and his basketball coach were on "the same page" as far as any financial details were concerned.
However, McGarity did make it clear that expectations will be high.
"I think the program should be just like any other program that we sponsor, we want to be competitive in the SEC and usually if you're competitive in the SEC then you're competitive on a national level," he said. "I think we all - every sport we have with 15 different head coaches - our goal is to all be competing in the NCAA Championship for whatever sport that may be. If you look at our goals as a department, that's one of our goals - that every team competes in their national championship. Basketball should be treated just as other sports and as far as expectations."
McGarity denied giving Fox an ultimatum regarding those expectations, particularly as it pertains to making next year's NCAA Tournament with four starters returning off this year's 20-14 squad.
"There are a lot of things that come into play. So you never go to a coach and say, this has to happen or else you're gone. You can't have that conversation," he said. "There are so many factors that go into certain decisions, and I think it pretty much handcuffs a coach too. It's just so difficult to work in an environment if you put those type of demands before you even start the season."