Troy Island an All-Met running back at Oxon Hill High School last fall, has been dropped from the Maryland football team because he failed to achieve a 2.0 grade point average in high school, according to Maryland officials.
Island, a 6-foot, 182-pound halfback, reported to Maryland along with the school's other freshmen last Sunday and took part in workouts until Friday when Assistant Coach Jerry Eisaman informed him that the school had learned he did not have a 2.0 average and therefore wasn't eligible for a scholarship under NCAA rules.
"Coach Eisaman came up and told me that my high school made a mistake, that I had a 1.68 average instead of a 2.0 and because of that I couldn't get a scholarship," Island said. "It was a big disappointment, to say the least."
Maryland officials said the problem arose because Oxon Hill sent them a letter certifying that Island had achieved a 2.0 average when in fact he had not. Oxon Hill officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.
"I think they were confused in the guidance office," said Gothard Lane, Maryland's recruiting coordinator. "They sent us a 2.0 letter but when our registrar went over his record it was apparent he didn't have a 2.0. That happens sometimes because of different grading systems. We requested another 2.0 letter (last week) and this time they sadi he had a 1.68."
A 2.0 letter routinely is requested by NCAA schools after any athlete signs a letter of intent. It verifies that the athlete has maintained a 2.0 high school average and therefore is eligible for a scholarship.
"Someone has messed up very badly," said Raymond Island, Troy's father. "I don't understand how Maryland could give him a scholarship without verifying that he had a 2.0. Our whole family is very upset about this. He spends a week working out down there and then all of a sudden they walk up and say he can't have a scholarship.They really owe this boy something better than that."
Eisaman said he has contacted Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy to try and send Island there for a year so he can get his average to the point that he can return to Maryland next year.
"The high school made a mistake, it's as simple as that," Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne said. "We're sorry it happened and sorry the boy won't be here this year. But a mistake was made. That's all there is to it."
Island ssid that he had worked hard last year to pull his grades up to 2.0 so he would be eligible for a college scholarship. "Thinking I had done it, then finding out I didn't makes it even worse," he said.
"I'm kind of confused myself," Lane admitted. "I'm going to try and talk to the people at the school Monday to find out what happened, whether they were confused or didn't understand what a 2.0 letter was or what happened."
Island never actually was admitted to Maryland. A student has two weeks to be admitted to the college after he reports to campus for summner practice under NCAA rules.
"All Troy's ever wanted to do is play football," his father said. "He wouldn't even try basketball and baseball because he wanted a football scholarship so badly. I don't know why it took so long for them to figure out what his average was. It shouldn't have happened this way."
Claiborne said that Island was "a good prospect," adding, "I hope he has a good year at Fork Union and comes back here next year."
Island, captain of the Oxon Hill team last season, carried 229 times for 1,360 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior. One thing in particular about him appealed to Claiborne: he lists weight lifting as a hobby. With such veterans as Charlie Wysocki, Wayne Wingfield and Tim Whittie returning, Island would have been no higher than fourth on the Terp tailback depth chart but was considered a top future prospect.
Island is the third player signed by Maryland last spring who will not enroll there this year. Danny Todd, a running back from Seat Pleasant, and Tom Takacs, a safety from New Jersey, opted for other schools after initially signing with Maryland.
The Terps have added Mark Wilson, a defensive end from Ferrum Junior College by way of Charlottesville, Va., as a late signee, meaning they have 25 new players on the squad.
"It all happened so fast," Island said. "One minute I was getting ready for practice, the next minute I wasn't on the team anymore. Right now, I still feel hurt."