U-Md. Basketball Ranks Last in Graduation Data

Thursday, October 4, 2007

No University of Maryland scholarship men's basketball player who enrolled between 1997 and 2000 graduated within six years, according to NCAA graduation rates that were released yesterday.

Perhaps the most glaring figure in the NCAA's data was the zero percent graduation rate for Maryland's men's basketball team, which ranked last among the nation's 321 Division I programs. The second-worst program from a power conference was Iowa State, which ranked 315th with a 17 percent rate. Only one other men's basketball program in the ACC -- Clemson (31 percent) -- had a rate of less than 40 percent.

Anton Goff, Maryland's associate athletic director for academic support said, "I don't know if we're going to say we're embarrassed, but we're definitely concerned."

"I've graduated 42 players in 18 years," Coach Gary Williams said. "I feel it is completely false, the [zero] number. The guys who are playing in the NBA, are they wrong for taking advantage of their ability? Are these people failures? To say the majority of these people are not successful is completely wrong."

NCAA officials say their three-year-old formula, which they call the Graduation Success Rate, is more accurate than federal graduation rates because the NCAA's methodology accounts for all scholarship student-athletes, including those who transfer into a school from four- and two-year colleges. Maryland men's basketball team also had a zero-percent federal graduation rate. NCAA President Myles Brand was unaware of specific details in Maryland's case but said rates of less than 20 percent are "red flags."

"The data points for basketball aren't very large so there may be some circumstances that I am not aware of," Brand said during a teleconference. "What it tells you is the athletic department should be looking carefully at that case."

Goff said the GSR pool consisted of 10 Maryland men's basketball players who failed to graduate within the six-year window after enrolling between 1997 and 2000.

Williams said D an ny Miller and Matt Slaninka transferred and graduated and Tahj Holden graduated this summer.

"It's kind of ridiculous it is a zero number when three people have graduated," Williams said. "To me it is incomprehensible that academic people don't look at it and say three out of 10 people graduated."

Goff said three of five scholarship seniors graduated after last season, and every current player is on track to graduate in four years.

-- Eric Prisbell

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