© St. Petersburg Times, published March 13, 2003
ATHENS, Ga. -- Two Georgia players sued Wednesday for the right to play in the conference and NCAA tournaments, but a judge quickly denied their request for a temporary restraining order.
The university pulled out of the tournaments Monday after an investigation showed evidence of academic fraud by players.
Starters Ezra Williams and Steven Thomas -- who were not accused of wrongdoing -- asked the school be compelled to try to play in the tournaments. The suit names the school, the board of regents and the university athletics association.
Judge David Sweat denied the temporary restraining order, but scheduled a hearing for Monday, according to his clerk, Sophia Tooten. That would be too late for Georgia, since the SEC tournament will be over Sunday and the NCAA Tournament field will be announced later that day.
When asked whether there was any possibility of having an alternate team selected based on how the lawsuit turns out, selection committee chairman Jim Livengood said it would be "impossible to speculate."
"The bracket we put out Sunday night is the bracket we intend to play Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the next week," he said.
The NIT also selects its field Sunday night, so it's unlikely the Bulldogs would have that option.
Williams and Thomas claim their ability to get NBA contracts will be hurt if they are denied the chance to play in the postseason.
SEC AWARDS: Kentucky guard Keith Bogans was named player of the year and Tubby Smith was chosen coach of the year by the league. Florida guard Anthony Roberson was freshman of the year. Also, Florida's Matt Bonner was named to the All-SEC team with Georgia's Jarvis Hayes, Mississippi State's Mario Austin and Tennessee's Ron Slay. Roberson was a unanimous pick for the all-freshman team.
RICHARDSON UPDATE: Nolan Richardson will have to wait more than a year to bring his case against Arkansas. A trial date of May 3, 2004, was set for Richardson's lawsuit against the school, which fired him as coach last March after 17 years.
ARKANSAS: A year was added to coach Stan Heath's contract, keeping him on the payroll until April 30, 2008.
Heath's first team enters this week's SEC tournament with a 9-18 record. The Razorbacks, who finished 4-12 in the league, face LSU in a first-round game at New Orleans today.
"I'm supremely confident in the prospects of a bright future for the Razorback basketball program under Stan Heath," athletic director Frank Broyles said.
C-USA AWARDS: Regular-season champion Marquette won four of the five league awards.
Marquette guard/forward Dwyane Wade was named the player of the year and defensive player of the year, and the Golden Eagles' Tom Crean was named coach of the year. Wade, a junior, led the league in scoring (21.7 avg.) and was second in steals (2.23). Crean has led Marquette to a 22-4 record and No. 8 ranking to earn the coaching honor for the second straight year.
Marquette freshman forward Steve Novak was named the sixth player of the year (top reserve), and Louisville forward/guard Francisco Garcia was named the freshman of the year.
MISSISSIPPI ST.: Standout Mario Austin will return for his senior year. The 6-foot-9 center cited two reasons for not entering the NBA draft: a chance to graduate and to play power forward.
ELON: Coach Mark Simons resigned.
-- Times staff writer Pete Young contributed to this report.