Mark Fox gave his final press conference on Sunday afternoon as the head coach of the Georgia men’s basketball team. The former coach addressed the media after the news broke on Saturday that Georgia and Fox would part ways. However, despite losing his job, Fox was a class act and showed great gratitude for his time at Georgia.
Fox opened the press conference with a statement he struggled to get through. He thanked the media for the coverage during his tenure. Fox told the media that nine years ago the then President Michael Adams asked him to build a foundation for success on the basketball court, in the classroom and across the Georgia community. He said that he attempted to do those things every day.
“If you’re someplace long enough, there’s going to be good times and bad times. I’ve been blessed to have far more good times than bad,” Mark Fox said about his time as the head coach.
One of those good times and fondest memories made Fox even more emotional.
“Probably my greatest memory would be winning at Mizzou,” Fox says before he pauses to hold back tears, ” after my dad passed.”
He takes a long pause to hold back more tears before he continues his statement.
“But winning in Mizzou after that would probably be my favorite,” Fox says as he glances at his family.
Fox shared with the media that he disagreed with the decision. He may disagree, but he says that he isn’t spending time looking backward but using his energy to look forward. Fox shared that he felt like since March 2014, his job wasn’t as secure as he wanted it to be.
Despite losing his job, he made sure to tell his players not to go anywhere. Fox said he told the players that no one should transfer or give the new coach any issues. He said that he and the team sat down and had a direct and honest conversation about life. Fox told them he wanted them to finish their education and how he will always expect them to function.
Fox noted that during that meeting, the team elected not to participate in the NIT tournament. He left the decision up to them whether he would coach them for the tournament or not. The players elected to not participate.
He goes onto say that a partnership between the athletic director and a coach is crucial for success. Fox said this multiple times during his press conference. However, he thinks that this program can grow and should grow.
“As kids grow up, they have to see Georgia win,” Fox says. “They have to see Georgia go nose-to-nose with teams in the league. Not saying you have to win every game, but they have to see the relevance within a team.”
A reporter asks him how he will reflect his accomplishments at Georgia and how he will grow from them. Fox pauses for a moment and says that’s a great question. He says that every decision made in the grand scheme of things is for the long-term benefit. Fox’s mentioned the renovations to Stegeman Coliseum and how he fought hard to get it. However, the most compelling part was him looking back at his time at Georgia.
” I’ll look back at some point and have great memories. There have been a lot of good times here,” Fox says. “At what point will I do that, I don’t know. Whenever you leave a place you hope that you’re welcomed back and it might be awhile before I feel that way. But I know right now that every week, every day, every month, every year, I’ve tried to grow and I’ll think I’ll try and grow from my time here as well.”
One thing is for sure, Fox made sure to do things the right way at Georgia. And despite the turmoil surrounding the NCAA basketball program, he kept a straight-laced ship. He says that it’s a challenging time in college basketball right now and that he doesn’t think he lost his job because everyone cheated and he didn’t. Fox continues to say the problems that have surfaced are a tiny bit of what actually goes on and it’s disheartening for the game. However, he makes a statement that caught everyone’s attention.
“It can be done, it can be done. You can win doing it the right way. You have to have everything aligned to do that. But it can still get done,” Fox states.
Fox says that coaching in the future isn’t out of the question. He says he received some calls but doesn’t know if any decisions will be made anytime soon. Fox says that coaching’s in his blood and he hopes to get back in the saddle one day and coach again.