State of basketball graduation is zero

No degrees for recruits to public schools in '92

August 31, 1999|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

The men's basketball teams at the state's public colleges would be left short-handed if the NCAA ever linked scholarship allotments to graduation rates.

The NCAA yesterday released its annual graduation rate survey, and its most recent data were for the class that entered in 1992. Colleges were given credit for scholarship athletes who received a degree within six years: None of the state's Division I public institutions graduated a men's basketball player in that time.

The men's basketball classes in question ranged from five scholarship players at Maryland to one freshman recruit at UMBC to none at Coppin State. Since 1992, four of the six Division I public colleges have changed men's basketball coaches. The holdovers are Maryland's Gary Williams and Coppin State's Fang Mitchell.

"I'd rather not speak for everyone," Mitchell said, "because we all have reasons for our problems. There are so many variables at play."

Not all players who fail to get a degree in the NCAA's six-year time line are academically dismissed. Some transfer to other colleges, and others begin professional careers. Some of those variables will be considered if the NCAA goes forward with tying scholarships to graduation rates.

"That will never go, because every school is different," Maryland's Williams said. "You have people who are pretty good college players who have an opportunity to make three and four times the money that a normal college graduate would make, if they play immediately after their senior year. That's where it hurts our graduation rate."

Of the five freshmen who arrived at College Park in 1992, one transferred and the other four played professionally after their senior seasons.

Colleges do not receive credit on NCAA surveys when a scholarship athlete takes more than six years to complete a degree.

"We just had a former player return to school and get a degree, and I think it took him eight years from the time he entered," UMBC athletic director Charlie Brown said. "The NCAA isn't going to acknowledge that, but we have to look at things long term.

"That's not to say this isn't a serious issue. There's a reason the NCAA is looking into matters like this. We're recruiting inner-city kids, some of whom don't have the best academic background, and it can be a difficult adjustment. All athletic directors at all levels should be concerned."

Because it does not give athletic scholarships, the Naval Academy does not participate in the survey. Loyola and Mount St. Mary's, the state's two private members of Division I, fared well on the survey.

Only four Division I colleges in the nation had a higher graduation rate than Loyola's 92 percent for scholarship athletes that entered in 1992. The Greyhounds graduated all of their men's and women's basketball recruits who were tracked in this particular NCAA study, but athletic director Joe Boylan wasn't gloating.

"Our coaches take their job seriously on the academic side," Boylan said. "In most cases, we don't have athletes who are going to play professional sports, but nonetheless, we're ecstatic. The data changes from year to year. Sometimes you're dealing with so small a number in the recruiting classes for individual sports that the results can be misleading."

The NCAA survey also offers a look at the scope of the state's athletic programs. While Maryland brought in 82 freshmen on scholarship in 1992, UMES brought in 10. The Eastern Shore school brought in only four male scholarship athletes, while Maryland, which has football, brought in 57.

NCAA graduation rates

Percentage of scholarship athletes enrolled in 1992 who graduated in six years.

........................................ ........MEN............................ WOMEN

College...................Overall....... Basketball..........Overall........Basketball

Coppin State............20 ................NA* .................43 .................NA*

Loyola.......................94 ..............100 ...................90 ................100

Maryland ..................47 ..................0 ...................68 ..................50

Morgan State ...........30 ..................0 ...................25 ..................67

Mount St. Mary's ......71 ................75 ...................64 ..................50

Towson .....................61 ..................0 ...................77 ................100

UMBC .......................56 ..................0 ...................56 ..................60

UMES .........................0 ..................0 ...................50 ..................40

*-Not applicable; no freshmen received scholarships.

Pub Date: 8/31/99

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