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NCAA NOTES

Washington State Hires Dick Bennett

March 30, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

Dick Bennett was hired Saturday as Washington State coach, succeeding Paul Graham, who was fired March 10 after going 31-79 in four seasons. The Cougars finished last in the Pacific 10 Conference three times under Graham.

Bennett, 59, inherits a program that hasn't had a winning season since 1995-96 and hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1994.

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Saturday's victories by Kansas and Marquette could delay the UCLA coaching search for at least a week.

Athletic Director Dan Guerrero would like to consider Roy Williams of Kansas and Tom Crean of Marquette but will not talk to them until their seasons are over -- which won't be until the April 7 national championship game for one of the teams. Marquette faces Kansas in a semifinal game on Saturday in New Orleans.

Ben Howland of Pittsburgh and Mark Few of Gonzaga are also considered strong candidates. Neither has been contacted by Guerrero, who might conduct interviews at the Final Four.

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Georgia has denied requests from two players seeking releases from their national letters of intent after the resignation of Coach Jim Harrick.

"That's the stance that we're taking right now," associate athletic director Damon Evans said. Harrick resigned Thursday amid allegations of illegal payments and academic fraud.

The university denied a request Friday by Jordan Howell of Madison, Ala. Mohamed Abukar of Rancho Bernardo High said he made a similar request.

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