Mar. 14, 2004: UGA Infamous Exam Raises a Few More Questions

Just when it looked as though things couldn’t get worse at my alma mater, the University of Georgia — the oldest state-chartered university in the nation, located in Athens, the Classic City of the South — they got worse.

For starters, we have President Michael Adams and Athletic Director Vince Dooley and their supporters engaged in civil war. The UGA Foundation is split worse than a piece of dried wood. The Arts and Science faculty has issued a resounding vote of no confidence in President Adams. The do-nothing Board of Regents is running around like a bunch of Alexander Haigs, assuring us that they are in charge. I can’t say for sure, but I’ll bet Adams probably wishes he had stayed at Centre College, which is located in Danville, Kentucky, which isn’t even the Classic City of Kentucky.

Now comes word that former UGA assistant basketball coach, Jim Harrick Jr., was permitted to teach a class on basketball strategy and produced a final exam with questions like how many points do you get for a three-point field goal and how many quarters are there in a high school basketball game? I won’t bore you with the rest of the exam because chances are you have already seen the test on the Internet or heard about it in media from Hong Kong to Hahira.

Jim Harrick Jr. and his father, former head basketball coach Jim Harrick Sr., have both been dismissed. Harrick Jr. was fired last March, and Daddy resigned a few weeks later. Harrick Jr.’s firing was the real shocker. He told NCAA investigators that before getting the axe, he had thought he was in the running for Teacher of the Year. (The gagging you hear is from members of the university’s faculty.) The Harricks believe their good name has been besmirched, so they are suing the University of Georgia, Mike Adams, Vince Dooley, the NCAA, the Board of Regents, the Georgia Athletic Association, the UGA Foundation, Martha Stewart, the Pillsbury Doughboy and any school in Georgia that awards four points for a three-point field goal.

Harrick Sr. has denied wrongdoing by either himself or Junior and says he has proof that basketball players and other scholarship athletes in Harrick Jr.’s “Principles of Basketball” class were not given preferential treatment. Every student in the class, he says, was awarded an A. Well, that is good news. I shudder at the thought of someone — anyone — flunking a course that poses such brain-twisters as “How many goals are on a basketball court?” and “In what league do the Georgia Bulldogs compete?”

Now I have some questions of my own: How did Harrick ever get hired at UGA in the first place? (A. He was the basketball coach at Pepperdine College in California when Mike Adams worked there, and both of them figured if you can make it at Pepperdine, you can make it anywhere; B. He thought Georgia was in the NBA; C. His son had this neat course on the principles of basketball that he wanted to teach; D. All of the above.)

Second question: What is the mission of the University of Georgia? (A. To provide a teaching/learning environment dedicated to serving a diverse and well-prepared student body; B. To prepare the university community and the state for full participation in the global society of the 21st century; C. To win ballgames; D. To supply opening monologue material for Jay Leno so as to embarrass the hell out of anyone with a diploma from UGA.)

Third question: Who is responsible for the current mess at the University of Georgia? (A. President Michael Adams — who says this kind of stuff never happened when he was at Centre College; B. The out-to-lunch department head who approved Jim Harrick Jr.’s teaching anything to anybody; C. Yahoos who think the university’s mission is to win ballgames; D. Jay Leno.)

Last question: Will my smug friends at Georgia Tech ever let me forget about Jim Harrick Jr. and his infamous exam? (A. No; B. Never; C. Are you kidding?; D. All of the above.)