Nevada loses coach Fox to Georgia
April 2, 2009
ATLANTA ” In a surprise move, Georgia has hired Nevada’s Mark Fox to replace Dennis Felton.
Georgia will announce the hire at a news conference on Friday morning, a person with knowledge of the hire confirmed on Thursday night.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the hire has not been officially announced.
Fox confirmed he was leaving, but didn’t say where he was headed.
“I truly loved being the coach at Nevada and forever will cherish my time in this community,” he said in a statement issued by Nevada’s athletic department late Thursday night.
The announcement is a surprise because Georgia athletic director Damon Evans was expected to interview candidates at the Final Four in Detroit, and Fox’s name had not surfaced in reports of the search.
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Georgia associate athletic director Claude Felton announced Thursday night Evans will “discuss the men’s basketball head coaching position” at Friday’s news conference.
Evans chose Fox two days after Georgia was unable to hire Mike Anderson, who instead agreed to a new deal at Missouri on Tuesday.
Fox led Nevada to a 21-13 record this season, his fifth straight 20-win season as the school’s head coach. Nevada lost to Texas-El Paso in the first round of the postseason College Basketball Invitational.
Nevada struggled to replace 7-foot center JaVale McGee, who left school early last year and was drafted in the first round by the Washington Wizards.
“I think with JaVale leaving we were over-scheduled because we were anticipating he’d be here,” Fox said after the season. “And we had a lot of public growing pains … but that will all make us better and I’m proud of them for that.”
Fox was 123-43 in five seasons at Nevada.
The 40-year-old Fox was an assistant coach at Washington (1991-93) and Kansas State (1994-2000) before moving to Nevada as associate head coach under Trent Johnson in 2000. He was hired as head coach in 2004 and led the Wolf Pack to NCAA tournament appearances in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Nevada advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2005 and 2007.
Johnson, who left Nevada to become head coach at Stanford, just completed his first season as Louisiana State’s coach.
Evans fired Felton on Jan. 29, leaving assistant coach Pete Herrmann to serve as interim coach for the remainder of the 12-20 season.
Felton was making $760,000 per year.
Felton was 84-91 in six seasons at Georgia. He led the Bulldogs to a surprise Southeastern Conference tournament championship in 2008 before a first-round loss to Xavier in his only NCAA tournament appearance with Georgia.
Felton took over a Georgia program in turmoil after the firing of Jim Harrick in 2003.
Georgia finished last in the SEC’s Eastern Division this year. Guards Zac Swansey and Troy Brewer announced after the season they will seek transfers.
A native of Garden City, Kan., Fox played at Eastern New Mexico, where he graduated in 1991.
Officials of the Nevada athletic department did not immediately return messages seeking comment.