Georgia men’s basketball coach Mark Fox will be with his team Wednesday night for its SEC opener at Missouri. Just like he was there last Friday night in Washington, hours before his father passed away back home in Kansas.
Raymond Lewis Fox, who had lung disease, was 78.
“Friday before the game, I might have thought for 10 seconds I should leave and go say my goodbyes,” Fox said. “Ten seconds later, I knew he wouldn’t want me to do that. My Dad spent his life working with young people and he didn’t even want his services to be during the season. He wanted me to coach my team. It would be one the first times I didn’t listen.”
Mark Fox will travel ahead of his team Tuesday morning so he can be at memorial services for his father this evening in Garden City, Kan. He will then travel to Columbia, Mo., to meet the Georgia team tonight.
“I’ll be there for my team,” Fox said.
Raymond Fox coached basketball at Ellsworth High School against Gene Keady, who became coach at Purdue. After the family moved to Garden City, he was a school counselor and coached football at Garden City Community College.
“My dad believed in coaching and in education in life, that there’s a right way to do things,” Fox said. “There’s a certain way to treat your wife. There’s a certain way to demand young people function. There’s a strength that is required in leadership to be able to do that because often it’s not popular.”
He left coaching to watch Mark and sons Scott and David play while owning a construction company. Fox played basketball at Garden City from 1987-89 before two seasons at Eastern New Mexico and then got into college coaching.
“The impact he made on me is that ultimately, as a coach and as an educator, you’re obligation is to the student, the player and to the team,” Fox said. “As uncomfortable as it may be some days, you have to try to do the things that will make a lasting impact on their lives.”
Georgia guard Charles Mann sent a text to Fox after players learned of his loss.
“Just to say I’m sorry, just anything he needs, I’m here for him, just to be in his corner,” Mann said.
Mark Fox made a quick trip home to Kansas for about 14 hours but was back in Athens Sunday for preparations for the Missouri game.
Tigers coach Frank Haith opened his news conference with local reporters on Monday afternoon offering his condolences to Fox.