© St. Petersburg Times, published April 11, 2003
ATHENS, Ga. -- Dennis Felton kept an eye on the problems at Georgia, hoping to be entrusted with rehabilitating a men's basketball program left in disarray by Jim Harrick.
Felton will get his chance, leaving Western Kentucky on Thursday to become Georgia's coach with a five-year contract worth $700,000 annually.
"As soon as I thought there might be a chance of a coaching opportunity at Georgia, I was very interested," Felton said. "I want to have the opportunity to build one of the next great basketball programs in the country."
He led the Hilltoppers to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and was 100-54 in five seasons. Before that, Felton worked as an assistant at Providence and Clemson.
Harrick left amid accusations of academic fraud and improper benefits to players. An investigation is ongoing and the school could face sanctions.
Felton becomes the second black coach in any sport at Georgia, following Tubby Smith, now the Kentucky basketball coach.
USF TO INTERVIEW WILLARD: Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard will be the third to interview with South Florida athletic director Lee Roy Selmon for the vacant men's position. But he is one of just two candidates.
Florida assistant Anthony Grant has withdrawn from consideration, USF announced. He interviewed Tuesday with Selmon, and USF assistant David Zimroth interviewed Monday. Selmon has said he hopes to meet with about five candidates.
Willard is next. Selmon reached Holy Cross athletic director Dick Regan early Thursday and received permission to speak with Willard. Selmon later contacted Willard, who was on the road recruiting, and they will speak again today to try to arrange a meeting.
Willard, 57, has a record of 220-170 the past 13 seasons at Western Kentucky (four years), Pitt (five) and alma mater Holy Cross (four), where he has led the Crusaders to three straight Patriot League titles.
McDONALD STARS: Former South Florida center Will McDonald had game-high totals of 19 points and 17 rebounds Wednesday in his first game at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. McDonald made 8 of 16 shots in 22 minutes in leading his team to a 91-79 win over a team that included Tampa Prep graduate Casey Sanders of Duke, who had six points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes. The event, a professional showcase for seniors, runs through Saturday.
KOHN, BAXTER HONORED: Reggie Kohn, the all-time assist leader at South Florida and in Conference USA, received the annual Richard K. and Roslyn K. Wittcoff & Family Endowed Scholarship awarded to a senior player, and teammate Jimmy Baxter earned the Richard K. and Roslyn K. Wittcoff Endowed Scholarship that recognizes a USF player who exemplifies a commitment to academics, character and sportsmanship.
NO WILLIAMS DECISION: Roy Williams and North Carolina will talk through the weekend about his interest in returning to the program where he learned to coach under Dean Smith.
UNC athletic director Dick Baddour said the Kansas coach wasn't ready to make a decision after two days of discussions.
Baddour said Williams had not been offered the job and the school would pursue other candidates in the next few days. "He understands this," Baddour said.
ARK.-LITTLE ROCK HIRING: Third-year assistant Steve Shields was named the Trojans' new men's coach, losing the tag of interim coach after just one day. He replaces Porter Moser, who left to coach at Illinois State.
UCLA: Forward Andre Patterson was dismissed for academic reasons. The sophomore flunked out of school last year only to be readmitted in December.
-- Times staff writer Pete Young contributed to this report.