Morgan State Todd Bozeman took his Morgan State squad to a second straight NCAA Tournament last March with just ten scholarships on his roster.
Bozeman, whose Bears team lost two basketball scholarships last week to an NCAA ruling regarding athletes’ eligibility, said this year he has 11 scholarships to hand out to future recruits, which should make next winter and the future years that little bit easier for Bozeman to do his job.
However, this news is very hurtful to the program, and Bozeman came on “The Morning Reaction” with Drew Forrester and Glenn Clark to talk about the ruling that was just handed down by the NCAA.
And Bozeman didn’t shy away from any of their questions, and made sure to explain the situation as best he could, because it can be a complicated process with the NCAA’s grading of a program.
“As always, I’ve never been one to duck questions or duck situations,” he said. ” Once the NCAA put the APR in effect, I anticipated this being an issue. A lot of it is not fair because they put all the weight on the coaches.”
That is not an excuse on Bozeman’s part. He just says that the players who already not eligible to play are also leaving the program or transferring and piling even more problems on the team.
The Bears finished under the NCAA cutoff for the Academic Progress Rates, which rates a team’s ability to keep their players on the path to graduating. It gives points to every scholarship players’ eligible semester remaining, so if players leave early to the NBA, drop out, or don’t cut it academically, the program as a whole can be harmed based on their performances.
And that is the situation with Morgan, Bozeman said.
“It’s complicated but its not indicative of the true academics,” Bozeman said. “The guys we have presently are not the ones causing the APRs. It’s the people we lose.”
For example, Syracuse this year was another team that lost scholarships in basketball. They scored a 912, under the 925 limit, which triggers the loss of scholarships. A score below 900 triggers more penalties, including a bigger loss of scholarships and other sanctions like postseason bans.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said that the reasoning behind his low scores were for guys like Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf, and Paul Harris leaving early for the NBA.
Maryland got away without losing scholarships by showing improvement from last year and losing some guys who had no eligibility left.
A 1000 is a perfect score for a program.
And it was the same situation for Bozeman as it was for Boeheim, as he said it was for two or three guys who are no longer on the program that hurt his recruiting efforts in the future. Bozeman said that for his program, even a loss of two APR points puts him in a dire situation where he loses a scholarship.
This does put more unwanted attention on Bozeman, who previously was the head coach at the University of California and had some personal issues at the school, and to people who don’t understand the NCAA rulings, this may look like a scandal because of what Bozeman did.
When Bozeman was coaching the Golden Bears back in the mid 1990′s, there were several scandals involving former Top 5 prospect Jelani Gardner, who was declared ineligible after his parents received 30,000 dollars from Bozeman to attend Gardner’s games at Berkeley.
The scandal came up after Gardner’s playing time decreased and his parents brought the issue to light. The Bears were forced to vacate all but two games from 1994-1996, including one NCAA Tournament Appearance.
Bozeman was not an attractive option for university’s coaching positions after having to leave California, but he has put up a great resume at Morgan State and has done a great job on and off the court at the school, leading the program to the two straight MEAC titles and March Madness appearances.
But while Bozeman has seen success on the court, he made sure to push across the point that these players are students, and that their performance as a team in the classroom is just as important as it is on the hardwood.
“I try to figure out how to get something done as opposed to complaining about what’s happening. A lot of times, it’ trying to make it right, trying to get better at it.”
And the plan is in place and has been in recent years. It’s just getting the program out of hole and back into the light when it comes to the NCAA standars.
“We’ve instituted additional precautions in terms of academics to try and get the guys a lot further along. We have summer school to get them ahead. Its important for athletes to get ahead because during the year it gets stressful. A lot of times it’s difficult, but its part of it.”
Tune into the interview with Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman at WNST.net and listen to Drew Forrester and Glenn Clark live Monday through Friday on WNST.net from 6-10 AM!