University of Georgia Athletic Director Vince Dooley has hired a public relations firm to improve his program's image, after the NCAA placed the football and men's basketball teams on probation.

Dooley confirmed that Atlanta-based Cohn and Wolfe Inc. has been retained, but denied that the NCAA probations were the major reason for the contract. A Cohn and Wolfe executive, however, said the NCAA probes led to the first meeting.

"We contacted them when all this NCAA business cropped up," said senior vice president Bob Hope. "We went so far as to bring in a crisis media specialist. But he had one meeting with Dooley and decided they were already handling that situation very well."

Meanwhile, the Augusta, Ga., judge who dismissed the University of Georgia Athletic Association and Dooley from a financial disclosure lawsuit said the association, which conducts the school's intercollegiate sports program, is a private corporation and therefore not subject to the state's open records law.

The suit, filed by the Macon Telegraph and News, asked for all financial records and documents of the association . . .

Al McGuire, the NBC sports commentator and former Marquette basketball coach, suggests taking away home games from schools and reducing scholarships to curtail cheating in the NCAA. McGuire, in an interview published in this week's U.S. News & World Report, also said that current penalties, such as taking a team off television for a year, are just "a slap on the wrist."

"The cheaters normally are at schools trying to accelerate too quickly into the top teams," McGuire said. "If what I call 'a jet job' roars into the top 30 out of nowhere, they'll usually be on probation within two years."