ATHENS — A federal judge has thrown out most of a defamation lawsuit filed by two fired basketball coaches, Jim Harrick and Jim Harrick Jr., against the University of Georgia and the UGA Athletic Association.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story said the Harricks failed to show they had a real claim of harm done to them in some instances. He also cited the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which prohibits citizens from suing state agencies unless a state specifically allows such lawsuits.

Harrick, the UGA men’s basketball coach from 1999 to 2003, and his son, an assistant coach, sued in February 2004, about a year after the two were forced out of their jobs during an investigation of academic fraud in a course the younger Harrick taught to a class that included several UGA basketball players.

The team was placed on NCAA probation after the investigation, and an internal UGA probe determined that academic fraud was committed in the course taught by Jim Harrick Jr.

The Harricks claimed they were defamed by university president Michael Adams, athletic director Vince Dooley and other university officials.

Only one claim remains in the lawsuit after Story’s most recent ruling, entered in March: the younger Harrick’s claim that he was defamed by the NCAA.

The investigation into the conduct of the Harricks was prompted by statements of former UGA basketball player Tony Cole, who told a TV journalist in 2003 he made an “A” in a class he did not attend, which is academic fraud, according to NCAA rules. In the same interview, Cole said the Harricks provided him with money for a hotel stay, telephone bills and even a TV set, all in violation of NCAA rules.

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