And honestly, I don't care. Gary Williams is right. The new NCAA data came out yesterday showing that Maryland was the only DI program in the nation that didn't graduate a single men's basketball player enrolled '97-'00. And my response is, meh. Is it really possible that there are kids who don't go to ACC powers on basketball scholarships because they've been dreaming their whole lives about getting that sociology degree within a six-year window? Really?
Sure, some go for the degree, but if you're willing to be honest and admit that big-time college basketball is nothing different than AAA baseball, I don't see what the big deal is. No one gets a degree from the Toledo Mud Hens. And one year in the NBA = about 20 years as a college-credentialed newspaper sports blogger, so if we're willing to assume that these hoopsters will catch up on their Tolstoy and Dostoevsky in their spare time, really, what's the big deal here?
Furthermore, isn't there some sort of admirable honesty in a 0 percent graduation rate? You know no one's cheating with a number like that. It's the most honest way to acknowledge that you're providing career training for future professional athletes, and not pretending, not fixing their grades and then handing them a piece of paper. Here's Gary, from the Sun:
"These people are very successful people," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "If you go to school to improve yourself economically, where have they failed? They make more than the average college graduate. Far more. If you're judging them just based on getting a degree, than OK, they haven't gotten a degree."
Kwame Brown has zero years of college education; things aren't working out so great for him. His spending a year at Maryland could have helped, but it would have just further depressed Maryland's rates, even though his own career choice would have been identical with or without the year at Maryland. In other word, the school doesn't do such a kid wrong. More from Gary, in The Post:
"The guys who are playing in the NBA, are they wrong for taking advantage of their ability? Are these people failures?"
But newspapers will gnash their teeth, as they always do, with judgmental sighs about the shame of it all.
Balt Sun: UM men's basketball's graduation rate worst in nation; NCAA data shows team failed to graduate a single player enrolled '97-'00
Wash Post: U-Md. Basketball Ranks Last in Graduation Data
The Diamondback: Men's Basketball Scores a Zero
Heather Dinich has it right over at Tracking the Terps, in which she provides some salary figures for the non-graduates. Further, to spout Gary's party line, we're talking about 10 players in this period: two transferred and graduated elsewhere, and a third graduated after the six-year window. If all you care about is the piece of paper, why wouldn't you count those three as grads? And now, suddenly, your rate is 30 percent? A massive improvement? Yawn.
The data is here, if you're really bored.