ATLANTA — Dennis Felton received a bear hug and some good news from his boss after Georgia’s SEC tournament championship victory over Arkansas on Sunday.
Athletic director Damon Evans said Felton will return as Georgia’s coach next season.
"Of course he’ll be back," said Evans, who in recent weeks said he would review the program and Felton’s status following the season.
"He’s our basketball coach. He’s going to be our basketball coach," Evans said.
Georgia was only 13-16 overall and finished 4-12 in the Southeastern Conference during the regular season, raising doubts about Felton’s status. The Bulldogs then won four games in the SEC tournament, including Sunday’s 66-57 win over Arkansas.
Georgia was down to eight scholarship players at the end of the season after two former starters were dismissed, a top backup quit and two freshmen suffered season-ending injuries.
Georgia had to win two games Saturday after its quarterfinal game against Kentucky, scheduled for Friday night, was postponed after a tornado damaged the Georgia Dome.
In two days Georgia beat Kentucky, the No. 2 seed from the East, Mississippi State, the No. 1 seed from the West, and Arkansas, the No. 2 seed from the West.
"I never had any doubts about the job that I can do in leading a program," Felton said.
Felton, 75-79 in five seasons at Georgia, called recent speculation about his job status "a new experience."
"I’ve never been in a seat where people are questioning that and it’s very difficult to deal with because I don’t have any intelligent answers, especially when I feel all along I don’t know what all the fuss is about," he said.
"I still feel totally confident in what we do and how we do it and what’s going on when we consider the big picture."
The Bulldogs earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, their first NCAA bid since 2002.
Georgia, the No. 14 seed in the West, will play Xavier on Thursday in Washington, D.C.
"The feeling of achievement is always there," Felton said. "I know how difficult it is to win championships, and this one will go down as extremely special because of the odds and how we had to go about doing it."