NCAA tries to get fix on meaning of graduation rates

Syracuse coach Boeheim encouraged by Brand's remarks on the subject

Notebook

NCAA Championship Game

High School

April 08, 2003|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

NEW ORLEANS - With academic scandals at Georgia, Fresno State and St. Bonaventure dominating headlines in college basketball this season, there has been plenty of talk at the men's Final Four about the NCAA seeking reform.

One of the proposals being floated is to punish teams with poor graduation rates by limiting the number of scholarships they can offer.

However, NCAA president Myles Brand said this week that before anything like that happens, the NCAA needs to find a new method to count graduation rates.

"Right now, we use a system that's federally mandated of looking at a six-year window," Brand said. "The coaches have expressed their concerns that that's not an accurate way of counting, and they're right. For example, it unfairly disadvantages programs when a student-athlete in good academic standing leaves for a legitimate reason. We need a better way to count graduation. ... The NCAA has been working hard for over a year, and our expectation is something fair and usable will be shortly forthcoming."

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said Brand's statement was the best thing he had heard from an NCAA president in years.

"Seven of the last eight kids in our program have graduated," Boeheim said. "But two of them transferred in. So we have five out of eight. But we had five guys transfer out. So we have a 45 percent graduation rate according to how it's figured now. I wouldn't be proud of that. But the five guys that transferred out are going to graduate where they are now, but they count against us. ... It's such a small number that if three or four guys transfer because they want to play more, it skews the rate unbelievably."

Former Maryland basketball player Dan Miller is a prime example. He transferred to get more playing time at Notre Dame, and even if he graduates there, it will still hurt Maryland's graduation rate.

Boeheim says he's had five players leave Syracuse to play in the NBA or in Europe that needed 10 credit hours or fewer to graduate. After their careers were over, they came back and got their degrees, but because it wasn't in the six-year time span, it didn't count for the Orangemen's graduation rate.

"[If you say] they only had a 20 percent graduation rate, that's just numbers," Boeheim said. "It's like just saying some guy shot seven of 20. ... It doesn't tell the whole story."

Crean's mom had stroke

The mother of Marquette coach Tom Crean had a stroke while watching the Golden Eagles' semifinal game against Kansas at the Superdome.

Marjorie Crean, 64, was listed in good condition yesterday at the Medical Center of Louisiana-Charity Hospital, where she was taken Saturday night after complaining of tingling and weakness in her arms during Marquette's 94-61 loss.

Any thoughts on pro?

Marquette junior Dwyane Wade said he has not yet made up his mind on whether he'll return for his senior year. The 6-foot-5 junior is expected to be a lottery pick if he decides to enter the NBA draft.

"You know, I don't live in the future," Wade said.

Texas sophomore guard T.J. Ford, who like Wade was a first-team All-American, said he is fully committed to the Longhorns for next season.

Time for everything

Kansas coach Roy Williams - who has deflected questions all week about whether he would be interested in taking the open North Carolina job - said he'd like to see the NCAA adopt similar rules to the NFL, which doesn't allow teams to hire or fire coaches until after the postseason is complete.

"My team, my staff, our program, our school, everybody, we have a right to enjoy this week," Williams said. "I think we should have the right to smile and feel good and not have to answer some crazy things."

Et cetera

Syracuse freshmen Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara were joined on the Final Four All-Tournament team by Kansas seniors Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich and sophomore Keith Langford. ... The Big East finished the tournament with a 12-3 record. The Big 12 was 14-6, including losses to Syracuse by Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.

The Associated Press contributed to this article

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