COLLEGE PARK -- Three starting football players for the University of Maryland were declared academically ineligible and suspended yesterday for the team's three remaining games after a midsemester review.
The decision, reached by the Academic Committee of the University's Athletic Council composed of faculty members, came five days before the Terps (2-6) are to play No. 9 Penn State (7-2) at Memorial Stadium. Suspended were senior outside linebacker Joel Goode, senior defensive tackle Derek Steele and sophomore inside linebacker Louis Johnson.
All three players, who won appeals from suspensions to play in August, were subject to the review. Maryland standards, higher than those of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, require seniors to have a 2.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Juniors must have a 1.85, sophomores a 1.7 and freshmen a 1.9.
Johnson and Steele refused to comment yesterday, and Goode did not show up for practice.
Maryland coach Joe Krivak, obviously upset, declined to comment on the suspensions, but said the midsemester review policy has been in effect since he became coach in 1986, and he knew of no other school that had a similar policy. The action yesterday was not fully supported by Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger.
"I support the policy in principle, because it is in context of trying to help the student graduate from the university," said Geiger, who was named athletic director September 1990.
"But I don't know if it is right to have this process done in the middle of the season with three games left," Geiger said. "One of my concerns is for the coach, because it changes his plans. This also penalizes the team. I'm concerned about the policy, and we will look at it further."
Geiger said yesterday's decision would not be reversed, leaving the Terps with huge holes to fill. Goode, 6 feet 2 and 222 pounds, from McKeesport, Pa., started the past five games and had 51 tackles this season. He was tied for the team lead in sacks with three.
Goode was declared academically ineligible after the 1989 season and last year attended a junior college before being reinstated at Maryland.
Steele, 6-4 and 265 pounds, from Newport News, Va., started last week against North Carolina and was listed as the starter against Penn State. He was Maryland's quickest and best pass-rushing lineman. He also had 15 tackles. Two years ago, Steele was suspended for the Penn State game because of a midseason review.
Johnson, 6-1 and 217 pounds, has started three games this season and was second on the team in tackles with 67. He also forced a team-high five fumbles.
"This is just another stab in the back," said junior defensive tackle Darren Drozdov, who will start in place of Steele. "This hurts, really hurts. I feel bad for the seniors. I think this midseason review needs to be done away with. What's to say a player can't pull his grade up by the end of the semester? And if he does, then he has missed three games. Either you're in or you're out."
Junior Dave Marrone (61 tackles), 6-3 and 233 pounds, has been splitting starting time with Johnson and will start in his place. Senior Hugh Brown will become the top reserve at both inside linebacking positions. Redshirt freshman Erick Wood could also see playing time.
Sophomore Mark Sturdivant and senior Greg Hines will be the starters at the outside linebacking positions, with junior Darren Colvin the top replacement.
NOTES: Maryland is experimenting with the two-back formation as opposed to the one-back set it presently uses. H-back Frank Wycheck and Chad Wiestling have been playing fullback with Troy Jackson, Doug Burnett and Larry Washington playing the tailback position. Washington did not practice last night because of a bruised shoulder. . . Several Maryland players said yesterday the team was still at an all-season low from Saturday's 24-0 loss to North Carolina, and a post-game tongue lashing from Krivak about how the Terps played years ago, when they had "better players." "That's the worst one we've gotten since I've been here," said senior DT Larry Webster. "Some people will take it one way, others will take it another. I have three more games to play. I play for the University of Maryland, and I'm not going to lay my hat down." QB Jim Sandwisch said: "I think he made a lot of people think, and I think he ticked some people off." . . . Maryland starting junior ILB Mike Jarmolowich was named the ACC Defensive Back of the Week yesterday, the fourth time this season. Jarmolowich had 19 tackles last week against Duke. . . .