Terp Ineligible despite UMd. Support System; Tutors, Counselors Provided

Article excerpt

Byline: Patrick Stevens, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Maryland Terrapins lost much of their hope for this basketball season after leading scorer Chris McCray was declared academically ineligible Monday.

But if the Terps fail on the court because of McCray's troubles in the classroom, it won't be because of a lack of help from the university's athletic department.

The department provides players with tutors, academic counselors, study halls and a large budget to support players' studies. There are two academic labs at Maryland for athletes. The academic support staff has a budget of $1.2 million, the largest in the 12-school Atlantic Coast Conference, according to the university.

Coach Gary Williams said yesterday that though the school offers help and monitors players' academic progress, the ultimate responsibility for staying eligible rests with the player.

"Part of going to college, you want people to accept more responsibility," Williams said. "If we wake a player up in the morning and get him to go to class, are we helping him? If we don't get him to class, then it's on me because he didn't get to class. There's a fine line there a lot of times on how much you should be doing."

Players rarely are placed on academic probation during the middle of the season, and it was a first for Williams in his 17 seasons at College Park.

Anton Goff, the assistant athletic director for academic support and career development, oversees a staff of 14 full-time employees and two graduate assistants. Athletes are required to meet with counselors once every other week. Tutoring is available, and an intensive learning program exists for students who need one-on-one attention.

Maryland also requires all freshmen to attend study hall during their first semester. Athletes can earn their way out of the mandatory session by maintaining a 2.3 grade-point average.

The basketball team has its own counselor, and Mr. Goff estimates 75 percent of the team works with learning specialists, tutors and mentors who reinforce organizational, time management and study skills. …