ATHENS — After an up-and-down five-plus seasons as the University of Georgia head basketball coach, UGA Athletic Director Damon Evans this morning announced his decision to fire Dennis Felton.
The move comes less than 24-hours after UGA's 83-57 defeat at the hands of Florida, sending the Bulldogs' to 9-11 overall and 0-5 in SEC play.
Associate Head Coach Pete Herrmann will serve as the team's interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
"I'm disappointed that things have not worked out better," Evans said. "I do think it is in the best interest of our men's basketball program that we move in a new direction, and while this may be unusual timing, I'm convinced it is the right time. I want to extend my best wishes to Dennis and his family and thank him for his service."
The highlight of Felton's reign undoubtedly came in last year's SEC Tournament when UGA won four games in a four day span to claim its first conference title since 1988.
But the Bulldogs' were never able to maintain the magic of last season's tournament run.
Losing to non-conference opponents such as Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and East Tennessee State, Evans felt it was time to begin the process of looking for a new leader.
"It wasnt just one thing," Evans said about his decision to move in a new direction. "It was a culmination of events that led us where we are today. My job is to do an overall evaluation and come to a conclusion. We informed Dennis that we wanted to meet with him, and we met with him early this morning and informed him of the decision. It was a quick turnaround, but it was one that was necessary."
Although Georgia has been to the NCAA Tournament only once in the last six years, Evans made it clear that his expectations for the basketball program remain high.
"We have goals and expectations at Georgia for every sport and that includes competing for championships on a regular basis both on the conference and national levels," Evans said. "We have a brand new 30-million dollar basketball practice and office facility that is without equal. I believe that we can have success here, and youve seen that in the past. We dont have all the answers yet, but we will figure out what it takes to get this program to a high level of success."
As for finding a permanent replacement for Felton, Evans said he will take his time before any decision is finalized.
"I have not set a time table at this time," Evans said of when he plans to hire a new coach. "To be quite candid, we may be looking at the end of the year before we hire someone. But what this allows us to do is the opportunity to begin the process and maybe get some early identification."
Evans said that he will hire a professional staff which will assist him in the search to find a replacement for Felton.
"I will enlist the services of a search firm," Evans said. "I believe that it is important for professionals out there who know the business well to give us advice and assistants in this process. Were looking for someone to be a CEO of the basketball program here at Georgia, and when I say CEO, you have to have leadership qualities." Felton leaves Georgia with an 84-91 overall record.