Terrapins Lose McCray for Rest of Season

chris mccray - university of maryland
The loss of senior and two-year captain Chris McCray, the Terps' leading scorer at 15.2 ppg., could cripple Maryland's hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament after missing the field of 65 last season. (Toni L. Sandys - The Post)
By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Chris McCray, the leading scorer and two-year co-captain of the Maryland men's basketball team, was ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the season, a serious blow to the Terrapins' hopes of returning to the NCAA tournament.

Beginning tomorrow at Georgia Tech, the 18th-ranked Terps will play without McCray, a senior from Capitol Heights who was averaging 15.2 points per game and was widely viewed as the team's most consistent player the past two seasons.

Student privacy laws prohibit Maryland officials and Coach Gary Williams from commenting on specifics involving McCray's academic status, but team sources have indicated for weeks that McCray's eligibility would be in jeopardy when the spring semester starts tomorrow. An athletic department source said last week that the final posting of grades from the fall semester would come early this week, which would determine McCray's eligibility.

McCray's mother, Shirleeta, said her son fell short of posting the 2.0 (on a 4.0 scale) cumulative grade-point average needed for him to remain eligible. In addition to other stipulations, NCAA rules mandate that senior athletes hold at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA after the fall semester to be eligible for the spring.

Regarding one course this fall, Shirleeta McCray said her son told her that he e-mailed his assignments to the instructor, who did not accept assignments that were e-mailed in. A source with firsthand knowledge of the situation, however, said class attendance was an issue for the senior.

McCray, who was unavailable to comment yesterday, apologized to his family, teammates and coaches in a statement released by the school and said that he would continue to pursue a degree in criminal justice.

"I'll learn from this experience," he said, "and look forward to becoming very productive in life and as a student here at Maryland."

When asked Saturday about his spring semester course load, McCray responded only by saying he was taking a family studies course during Maryland's winter session, which started Jan. 3, concluded yesterday and did not affect his eligibility for the spring.

Team sources first indicated there was an issue with McCray's academics nearly a month ago, but Shirleeta McCray said she first learned of the problem last Wednesday, when a Maryland assistant coach called her. She said she was "frustrated" with Maryland because "I could have gone up there three weeks ago when you found out and got this straight."

An athletic department source, however, said she was aware before last week.

At Maryland, students typically can appeal a grade of a course through the individual professor. There was still optimism within the men's basketball program that McCray's situation would be reconciled yesterday, according to those close to the player.

Shirleeta McCray talked to her son early yesterday, when he told her he was about to enter a meeting. She found out her son's playing career at Maryland was over when a reporter called her yesterday afternoon.

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