Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Academic Woes Strike at Marist Again

When it comes to college sports the participants are called "student-athletes."

There's a very good reason why the "student" portion of the label comes first. It's because academics, at least in a perfect world, is the more-important part of the equation.

In this blogger's considerably lengthy lifetime the equation has been turned upside down. But, that has always been at the sport's higher level, the so-called high-major level, where the need to produce revenue, to get public exposure via TV appearances, to advance in post-season tournaments, etc., has become so important that athletic teams very nearly operate like professional franchises.

The good thing about the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference is that almost none of that has filtered down to the mid-major level. In this conference, for the most part, athletes remain students first.

Which leads us to recent developments at conference member Marist College, which announced earlier this week, that freshman guard Sam Prescott, who had been averaging 7.5 points and 2.1 rebounds per game, was declared academically ineligible for failing to meet NCAA academic standards and will miss the remainder of the 2009-10 season.

It's just more bad news for a program that is struggling on the court, too, with a 1-17 overall record.

Prescott becomes the program's third academic casualty of the current season. Sophomore guard R.J. Hall missed the first semester for academic reasons and 6-foot-10 center Casiem Drummond, a transfer from Villanova (where he was in good standing academically) was declared academically ineligible for the current semester.

Hall's grades improved enough for him to return to the court for the current semester.

Drummond, who sat out two semesters to satisfy transfer requirements before his academic suspension, subsequently left the program after his academic suspension to transfer to an NAIA school recently.

Still, that's three academic suspensions out of the mandatory 13 scholarship players. or about 24 percent of the program's players.

Your blogger has been covering the conference in one form or another since 1989 and can't remember there ever being this many academic suspensions within one MAAC basketball program in a single season.

The school's hometown newspaper, the Poughkeepsie Journal, has taken a to-be-applauded stance on the issue in an opinion piece available on line (link below) done by Mike Benischek.

In the piece, Benischek writes: "Right now, losing three players over the course of the season for academic reasons is a bigger error than the team's 17 losses."

Of course, each situation stands on its own and is not necessarily an indictment of the program as a whole. Still, it's a reminder that colleges are in business to educate students moreso than to prepare individuals to succeed in athletics.

That philosophy particularly needs to be fulfilled at this level of college sports.

Here's a link to Benischek's opinion piece on the topic:


Troy said...

Daye Kaba and Javon Parris were both on the dean's list, w/ M. Watson just missing it it's hard to point at just one person (coach Martin) for the academic failings this season. Martin cannot be fully responsible if he has players making the dean's list, in my opinion. Guys need to step up and learn to balance the classroom as well as the bbal court responsibilities (as difficult as that can be... but tons of young student-athletes do it)

I must say tho... w/ everything that can absolutely go bad, actually going wrong at Marist... I truly respect coach Martin for how he's handle it .. owning up to every situation and never passing the blame no matter what. Also staying extremely positive in such a rough situation. Very impressive! Not too many men can deal w/ being at the top (@ Memphis, National Champ contender) to being at the complete bottom ... his plans for the season early on was so bright (Drummond 6'10 265, Alexis 6'7 200 and M. Watson 6'8 270 21 yrs old)... but everything seem to not go Marist way at all and was flipped upside down .. W/ that kind of mental strength, I believe in him and his plan to get this program back to one of the top MAAC teams .. and I believe/know he will!

Steve Amedio said...

It's nice to see your support for coach Martin. Just as it's nice to see two Marist players on the dean's list.
But the point I was trying to make is that it's a college's primarily duty to ensure all of its student-athletes succeed academically.
And, as I said, I don't believe there has ever been three players from the same MAAC program ruled academically ineligible in the same season.
I'm not placing blame, but the point is that the situation at Marist merits consideration within the school (which, I'm sure is happening), and probably some action.

Troy said...

Denzel Yard

Steve Amedio said...

Denzel Yard at Siena is indeed academically ineligible.
That's one ... not three like has happened at Marist.
Big difference.

No program is immune to academic difficulties and/or suspensions for academics.

Just that it's unusual for a program to suffer three such occurrances in the same season, and it's something that needs an internal examination (which I'm sure is happening).