UConn Men's Team Turning A Page

The University of Connecticut men's basketball team begins its season next week with dramatic changes.

Longtime coach Jim Calhoun, who brought the program from well-deserved obscurity to national prominence and three NCAA championships, has retired. He has been replaced by former Huskies captain and longtime NBA guard Kevin Ollie. We wish Mr. Ollie well.

Also, the Huskies will not be playing in postseason tournaments this year, as a penalty for the inexcusably poor academic performance of the team from 2007 to 2010, particularly the 2009-10 not-very-academic year. The latter group amassed an Academic Progress Rate score of 826, way below the NCAA's minimum standards.

The embarrassment was amplified by the NCAA's recent release of the graduation rate for male players who entered the school in 2002 through 2005. Only 11 percent graduated within six years. That was the lowest among major Division I basketball programs in the nation. This isn't serving the young men well and is a black eye for a university trying to improve its national academic ranking.

It's important to note that academic scores have improved dramatically in the past two years under President Susan Herbst, and there's every sign progress will continue. Is it too much to hope that the graduation rate might reach that of the women's teams from the University of Hartford, Quinnipiac and Fairfield universities, as well as the Fairfield men's team, all of which had a 100 percent rate during the period? Or of the UConn women's team, which had a nearly perfect graduation record too?

At Storrs, some have wondered if the fans would drift away this year because the Huskies aren't playing for the tournament. We'd be amazed if that happened. The Huskies have earned a very loyal following, and winter in Connecticut is no place to be a fair weather fan.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad