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Fox had long wanted UGA job


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Former University of Nevada, Reno basketball coach Mark Fox was one of several candidates University of Georgia athletic director Damon Evans talked to on Tuesday before Damon offered the head basketball coaching job to Fox.

That came out of the press conference this morning in Athens, Ga., where Fox was introduced as the new Bulldogs basketball coach.

Evans told the assembled group he wanted to “introduce one of the country’s brightest, up-and-coming coaches.”

Fox said playing in the Southeastern Conference is “playing at a different level” and faced with a tough job recruiting in an area with which he was not familiar Fox said he will not “raid Nevada’s cupboard.”

Fox made $425,000 this year in base salary as the Wolf Pack head basketball coach. The Associated Press reports he will earn $1.3 million a year as University of Georgia coach.

“I want to begin with an apology to the people of Northern Nevada because I wasn’t able to say goodbye,” Fox said at the press conference. “I’m leaving a wonderful place, a place where I loved being a coach.”

UNR athletic director Cary Groth spoke highly of the Georgia athletic director, Fox said.

“I will not bring my entire staff from Nevada,” Fox said, adding a short time later: “I believe my associate head coach will replace me at Nevada.”

Fox earlier this year said associate coach David Carter would be a good replacement for him and FoxSports.com reports Carter has been offered the job.

Fox said he will bring Kwanza Johnson to Georgia with him and noted Johnson played on two final 16 teams for Billy Tubbs at Tulsa.

Fox said his interests in Georgia go back a long time and he said he once turned down a job by saying, “It’s not like it’s Georgia.”

Asked about the caliber of coaching in the SEC, Fox said there’s great coaches in the league. He joked he would lose to Florida coach Billy Donovan in a game of one-on-one. But Kentucky Coach John Calipari, “with his bad hip, I could probably get around him,” Fox said.

Sportswriters wondered if Fox could recruit talent to make the Georgia Bulldogs national contenders and wondered how he would recruit players.

“I think first and foremost young people need to understand that their dreams can come true at this university,” Fox said. That includes playing in the National Basketball Association and earning a degree that can give them a career after their playing days are over.

Fox said Wolf Pack five players played in the NBA. “Not one was offered a scholarship by a big six conference,” Fox said.

He talked about recruiting players at Nevada in North Carolina, South Carolina and Chicago. “We’ve had to go everywhere to get players,” Fox said.

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