UCLA's Harrick fired for violations

By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 7, 1996

The Associated Press
Arizona Daily Wildcat


UCLA men's head basketball coach Jim Harrick was fired by the school's chancellor yesterday after it was discovered that he had mislead the university in its investigation of a recruiting violation. Harrick admitted to errors in judgement, including lying on an expense report, but said his actions didn't warrant firing. Assistant coach Steve Lavin will be at the helm when the Bruins' season starts in two weeks.

Jim Harrick's career as UCLA head men's basketball coach ended yesterday when he was fired for what the school's chancellor called "recruiting irregularities."

Bruin assistant coach Steve Lavin was named as interim coach during the 1996-97 season with UCLA conducting a nation-wide search for a head coach during the upcoming season.

"I am announcing today the termination of UCLA's men's head basketball coach James R. Harrick," UCLA Chancellor Charles E. Young said in a statement. "Coach Harrick has been terminated following a UCLA investigation into an NCAA recruiting voilation aand subsequent misstatements about the infraction."

The violation stems from Harrick filing a false expense report connected with a recruiting dinner on Oct. 11. The dinner was attended by five current student-athletes and three recruits. The dinner violated NCAA rule which states that a school ca nnot provide a free meal or entertainment to a student that assists in the recruitment of a prospect.

When Harrick was later confronted by university officials regarding the night in question, he admitted that he had misled the university with his report. This act violated NCAA rules relating to unethical conduct and university policy regarding the filing of a false expense report.

''Cheating is a planned thing,'' Harrick said at a press conference. ''You know, some-thing happened, but it wasn't in my estimation a grave thing. Boy, to call you in after practice and to just lay it down to you with no explanation whatsoever is just n ot right."

Harrick is to hold his own press conference today.

Harrick was also reported to have had a falling out with UCLA athletics director Peter T. Dalis due to the alligations of expense-report descrepencies and sexual harassment.

UA head men's basketball coach Lute Olson stated that he was shocked to learn of yesterday's events leading to Harrick's termination.

"Bobbi (his wife) and I would consider ourselves around Jim and Sally Harrick's friends and our concern to this point is for the Harrick family," Olson said. "We know that second chances in this profession are difficult to come by. Regard-ing the effect o n the UCLA program - Steve Lavin is an outstanding young coach and I'm sure will carry on with the offensive and defensive schemes already established for this year's UCLA team."

Since Harrick entered as head coach in 1988, he has led the Bruins to a national title in 1995 and three Pac-10 championships. He also finished with a mark of 191-63, winning at least 20 games in all eight seasons. His teams played in eight straight NCAA Tournaments, reaching the Sweet 16 three times (1990, 1992, and 1995), the Elite Eight twice (1992 and 1995). He also coached 13 players who eventually played in the NBA.

"UCLA appreciates the hard work that Jim has invested in the men's basketball program during his eight years as head coach," Young said. "The program has been very successful. However, his termination is linked to the seriousness of this situation."

Initially, it was reported that Harrick's role in the sale of a car under his name to the sister of high school recruit Baron Davis was involved in the decision. Young, however, stated that a Pac-10 investigation into the matter found no evidence of rules violations and it had no bearing on Harrick's dismissal.