Williams Takes Blame For McCray's Ineligibility

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Maryland Coach Gary Williams yesterday accepted responsibility for allowing co-captain Chris McCray to become academically ineligible and said he would look to improve what he feels is an already sound academic support system that Maryland has in place for student-athletes.

"You don't expect it from a senior," Williams said. "Having been here for 3 1/2 years, you know how the system works. But at the same time, it can happen. I look at this as a one-time situation. We have a lot of things in place that help our student-athletes . . . but we also have to have people that are willing to do their part, too."

Williams's comments came one day after McCray's mother, Shirleeta, said she was "frustrated" with Maryland because she did not feel officials promptly notified her of a problem or dealt with it effectively. McCray was ruled academically ineligible because he did not meet NCAA guidelines that stipulate that, as a senior, he must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and earn six credit hours in the fall semester.

Debbie Yow said the school's Academic Support and Career Development Unit for student-athletes is the strongest it has been during her 12-year tenure as Maryland's athletic director. Twelve years ago, she said, it had five full-time employees and a budget of roughly $250,000. This year, it has 14 full-time employees and two graduate assistants and a budget of $1.2 million.

"Any issue that we would have at this point have nothing to do with staffing or resources that have been dedicated," said Yow, speaking in general about the support system.

A source with first-hand knowledge of McCray's situation said Monday that the player's class attendance was a problem. When Williams was asked yesterday if he has a penalty system in place for players who miss class, he said that is "strictly within the team."

Williams was unsure whether McCray would practice with the team the rest of the season because he "wants to do what's best for Chris."

"This is the first time in 28 years as a head coach," Williams said, "I've lost a player halfway through the season."

-- Eric Prisbell

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