Terps Coach Williams: Keep college advising to yourself
Thank you, Terrapins Coach Gary Williams, for your college and career planning advice.
It certainly is original: Dropping out of college may not be so awful because people sometimes go on to make millions of dollars. Bill Gates for one. Barry Gossett for another. Even Dan Snyder.
Maybe college basketball coaches should stick to coaching basketball and leave the college counseling to people who know what they are talking about.
Williams reacted negatively to an annual study that showed the University of Maryland at College Park has the lowest graduation rate--8 percent--among the 65 teams in this year’s NCAA basketball tournament. The next lowest was California, at 20 percent. A few schools, including Brigham Young and Marquette, graduated all their players.
The study was conducted by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. It uses data on graduation and academic progress rates that the teams and schools report to the NCAA, and compares the academic performance of African-American and white basketball players.
This year’s results look at the classes that entered the schools from 1999 to 2002, and used a six-year graduation rate:
*Eighty-four percent of white and 56 percent of African-American men’s Division I basketball student-athletes graduate, increasing six percentage points for white basketball student-athletes and by two percentage points for African-American basketball student-athletes compared to last year’s study.”
*Forty-four teams, or 69 percent of the total, graduated at least 50 percent of their basketball student-athletes (up from 63 percent in 2009).
*Thirty-seven teams (58 percent, a 10 percentage point increase from 2009) graduated at least 60 percent, and 29 teams (45 percent, also a 10 percentage point increase from 2009) graduated at least 70 percent.
*Only 12 teams (19 percent, down from 24 percent in 2009) graduated less than 40 percent.
*Among schools in the tournament that hail from the greater Washington D.C. region, Georgetown University had an 82 percent graduation rate; Morgan State University, 42 percent; Old Dominion University, 43 percent; University of Richmond; 85 percent.
Here’s what Williams told my colleague in sports, Steve Yanda:
“Obviously, those years we had players leave early and they’re millionaires now, and they’re coming back to get their degrees, just like other guys have come back and gotten their degrees. Plus we’ve graduated, let’s see, I think it’s 10 out of 12 and most recently of our seniors, we’ll graduate all four of our seniors this year. Our academic support system has completely changed since 1999-2003. That is ancient facts, and you know it.
"See, you’ll never put in there that our four seniors will graduate this year or that we’ve graduated 10 out of our last 12 players. That’s my quote. And our academic support system is completely different than it was ’99 to 2003. You’re talking about eight years ago, seven years ago where things were different.”
Williams makes a legitimate point in saying that the university has come a long way academically since 1999. Indeed it has, and the school has earned a well-deserved fine academic reputation. But even taking into account the years he cites himself--1999 to 2003, most of the athletes in the study would have graduated after 2003.
Then he goes on to rant, I mean, say:
“Plus, we had teams in 2001 and 2002 that won national championships. Terrence Morris left early as a first-round draft choice...Steve Blake, you know what he’s doing. He’s playing for a lot of money. Juan Dixon has made a lot of money during his career, and they both hopefully will come back and get their degrees. Chris Wilcox is a lottery pick, left after his sophomore year. Drew Nicholas did not graduate, but he’s had a very successful year, still playing and making a lot of money."
"This is wrong, to say that these people aren’t successful. Do you know Barry Gossett never graduated from the University of Maryland? He never graduated, but nobody ever criticizes Barry Gossett because he gives $12 million or whatever for the football team house. Barry’s a good guy. He’s done a lot of great things for the University of Maryland. Dan Snyder dropped out of Maryland after his freshman year. It’s just the way it works. Bill Gates never graduated from Harvard.
"To say people aren’t successful and to imply that we don’t care about academics with our players is completely wrong. Once again, we’ve graduated 10 of our last 12, we have four seniors this year, and they will graduate. I will put that graduation rate for the last five years up against anyone in the country."
Coach Williams. Take a deep breath. If you are graduating most of your players now, that’s great.
But, please, making money is not the only measure of success. Dropping out of college and making billions of dollars, like Bill Gates, is not “the way it works” for anybdy but Bill Gates. Surely some of the players who graduated after getting an education went on to make some big bucks too.
Staying in school, and graduating, and then starting a career would be the best thing for every player on your team. Suggesting otherwise is harmful.
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| March 16, 2010; 1:58 PM ET
Categories: University of Maryland | Tags: NCAA, Terps, University of Maryland
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