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Monday May 30th, 2016 8:19PM

Georgia basketball coach Fox given 2-year extension

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA -- Georgia coach Mark Fox was given a two-year contract extension on Wednesday following a season in which athletic director Greg McGarity said he saw "very encouraging" improvement.

Fox is 85-77 in five seasons at Georgia, including a 20-14 record in the 2013-14 season. The Bulldogs tied Kentucky for second in the Southeastern Conference at 12-6. Georgia fell short of the NCAA tournament and won one NIT game.

Georgia started the season 1-4 as it adjusted to the loss of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the No. 8 overall pick by Detroit in the 2013 draft.

"This was a really good year," McGarity said. "It didn't meet quite all the expectations that we wanted, from an NCAA standpoint. It sets the table for a big year next year, and there's a lot of momentum building for that and we think this is the right thing to do at this time."

The 20-win season followed back-to-back 15-17 seasons.

McGarity said recruiting considerations were a factor in the timing of the extension. Fox had two years remaining on his current deal, and McGarity said a recruit would have worried the coach would not remain at Georgia for the player's four years.

"I think there's a time a young man wants to feel comfortable," McGarity said. "It kind of puts to rest any questions when you're talking to a high school prospect of how long you're going to be around. I think this kind of takes that off the table from that standpoint."

McGarity said financial terms of the new deal, which runs through the 2017-18 season, have not been finalized. Fox was making $1.7 million annually on his current contract, based on an extension he received in 2011 following his only NCAA tournament appearance at Georgia.

"Mark's first contract was a six-year deal," McGarity said, adding the expectation was Georgia would be "competing at a high level" by the end of that period.

"We competed at a high level this year, not as high as we wanted to, but still the record shows the performance of the team this year," McGarity said. "Now we just need to start stacking success upon success."

McGarity, noting Georgia loses only one starter, said "expectations for the coming season will be very high."

Fox said consistent success is his goal.

"As we move forward and continue to recruit and develop young men who can compete for championships, this is a great step to aid in the process," Fox said in a statement.

"The next goal is to remain successful and to move that success to another level through scheduling, recruiting, the commitment of our young people and the help of our administration."
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