Already strapped with a one-year probation for allowing an academically ineligible student to play men's basketball last year, Anne Arundel Community College has lost three players, two of them starters, toacademic ineligibility.
Keith Thompson, one of the Pioneers' leading scorers with 21 points a game as a swing man, has been dropped from the team along with starting point guard Ralph Purnell and one of the first players off the bench, Steve Mackey.
Thompson and Purnell are from Lake Clifton High School in West Baltimore, while Mackey is a graduate of Meade.
Coach Mark Amatucci has replaced them with two students who became academically eligible after the fall semester, Lester Lee of South River High and Jamal Harris of Baltimore's Southern. Lee and Harris were ineligible the firstsemester and worked to get their grades up to standard.
Amatucci said, "There is nothing unusual about losing players to academic ineligibility. You just make adjustments and go on."
Last Thursday, grades for the first semester were released by the Arnold junior college, and the three players were declared ineligible for having grade-point averages below the required 1.75.
"Keith and Ralph did everything we asked of them, but there was one course (math) they had problems with," said Amatucci.
"They got C's in all their other courses,and believe me, they wanted to do what was right and expected. They will continue here this spring in hopes of getting their grades up inorder to be academically eligible next year.
"They don't have a car and take the buses every day, an hour and a half each way, to get here. You have to admire kids like that and I feel for them. They normally don't get home from school on a regular day until 6:30 p.m."
Amatucci said Mackey, while not a starter, was "a constantly improving player."
The Pioneers (8-3) are ineligible for postseason play this year because of a misinterpretation of an academic rule last season that permitted an ineligible player to play.
The National Junior College Athletic Association placed the Pioneers on one-year probation.
The Pioneers were scheduled to play Montgomery-Rockville tomorrow, but Montgomery has forfeited the game due to its own eligibility problems. AACC's next game is at 4 p.m. Thursday at Essex Community College.