Almost one-fifth of the boys basketball players in Anne Arundel County have been declared academically ineligible to play, based on report cards issued Tuesday.
Under county rules, students with grade-point averages that fall below 2.0 are not allowed to participate in athletics or other extracurricular activities. Those ruled ineligible during this most recent marking period must sit out during a probation period that lasts 15 school days, ending March 4.
Anne Arundel County students were hit particularly hard during this marking period, with 6,171 pupils -- or 35 percent of the county's nearly 18,000 public high school enrollment -- failing to meet the 2.0 standard. Of those, 120 were athletes playing winter sports.
Among athletes, approximately 20 percent of boys basketball players were ruled ineligible. There were nearly as many boys basketball players (57 of roughly 288) among the academic casualties as there are in the other three winter sports combined (62).
Just 10 girls basketball players were ruled ineligible. Twenty-three wrestlers and 29 indoor-track athletes fell below the 2.0 minimum requirement, which the county adopted five years ago.
"We're obviously not getting the message to parents on how important grades are," said Old Mill athletic director Jim Dillon, a 35-year school system veteran.
"It's disturbing, looking at the list of students and seeing kids from other sports not playing now and not meeting the requirements. Of course, this marking period is always the toughest, because there is an exam at the end."
Jamell Miller, an All-Anne Arundel County pick last year from No. 10-ranked Arundel, was one of several key players put on academic probation.
Those on academic probation can return for the state basketball region semifinals on March 5 -- if they have the required 2.0 grade-point average by then. They are allowed to practice during the 15-day probation period but cannot dress for the games.
Arundel's boys basketball team lost three varsity and three JV players, including Miller, to probation. Old Mill lost four players, two of them varsity; Glen Burnie lost four, three of them varsity; Annapolis lost three, all JV; Meade lost seven, including three varsity; North County lost six, four varsity; and Southern lost five, two of them varsity.
The county's two division leaders, No. 8 Broadneck of the South and Chesapeake of the North, along with Severna Park, South River and Northeast did not lose any varsity players. They did lose JV players.
Severna Park and Chesapeake had the fewest ineligible athletes, with five each. At Severna Park, coaches credit the hiring of Colleen Stauffer as an academic adviser four years ago.
"One of the first things I did when I became coach was get Colleen on board as academic adviser, and it has grown to where the school board has made it an official position," said Falcons boys basketball coach Paul Pellicani, who has no ineligible varsity players and just one on the school's JV.
"Colleen has worked hard to make the position functional."
Stauffer pioneered the way for what is now a funded, extracurricular position that pays the adviser $1,544 for the school year.
At other schools, coaches share concerns about the decline in academic performance.
"I think the middle schools are killing us," said Fred Stauffer, Annapolis athletic director and county math instructor for 34 years, and Colleen Stauffer's husband. "They're not preparing the kids for high school. Ninth graders are not coming into the high school getting ready to succeed academically. And of course, a lot of the students don't do the work and have don't-care attitudes."
Tom Albright, Southern-Harwood's athletic director and boys basketball coach for 32 years, said parents need to get more involved.
"The colleges blame us, and the pros blame the colleges. You know how that works," said Albright. "It's a little bit of everybody, but we need to get more help from the parents."
Rules at a glance
Eligibility standards for public high school student-athletes and others in extracurricular activities in Baltimore and the surrounding counties:
Anne Arundel County: Minimum 2.0 grade-point average required, with maximum of one E grade. Student on a partial schedule must maintain a C average in all courses attempted with no E's.
Baltimore: Cannot fail more than two classes. No minimum grade-point average.
Baltimore County: Cannot fail more than one class. No minimum grade-point average.
Carroll County: Cannot fail more than one class. No minimum grade-point average. The policy is under review.
Harford County: Must pass five subjects and be on track for graduation (meaning no courses needed for graduation can be failed). No minimum grade-point average required.
Howard County: Must maintain a minimum 2.0 grade-point average with no failing grades.
Pub Date: 2/15/97