|Ask Ian: A Basketball Season for the Ages
2:30 P.M. SUNDAY, APRIL 11, 2010
Hello Baylor Family,
The recent weeks have been special times for Baylor fans as the nation has been captivated with March Madness. The Bears and Lady Bears made great runs and captured the hearts of Baylor Nation as they advanced to the Elite 8 and Final Four, respectively.
It was a special treat for both teams to be able to advance deep into the NCAA Tournament and an added blessing to be able to play in front of so many Baylor fans close to home.
The Bears swept through the New Orleans first and second round to advance to Reliant Stadium in Houston for their Regional. More than 47,000 fans, the vast majority wearing green and gold, packed Reliant and cheered on the Bears in the Regional Final against eventual national champion Duke.
Meanwhile, the Lady Bears advanced through the Berkeley first and second round and Memphis Regional to reach the NCAA Final Four in San Antonio. It was great to see so many Baylor fans fill the Alamodome. A crowd of more than 28,000 created a tremendous atmosphere and saved its loudest ovation of the night to celebrate a second half Lady Bear run that cut UConn's lead to three points with 12 minutes remaining.
Baylor is one of only three schools with both its men's and women's teams in the Elite 8 and was the only Big 12 institution to have both its basketball teams advance so deep in the NCAA Tournament.
Having both basketball teams perform so well in the NCAA Tournament is a special way to start the annual Bear Foundation fund drive and the results are predictably encouraging. If you have ever thought about joining the Bear Foundation, there has never been a better time to do so. We are coming off five consecutive record years for the BBF and Baylor teams are showing the results. Please help us keep the momentum building by joining the Bear Foundation today by calling 254-710-2582 or join on-line at http://www.baylor.edu/bearfoundation.
While we are celebrating the extraordinary success of Baylor basketball, clearly there is still much work to be done in terms of capital projects for other sports. We remain focused on completing the outstanding capital projects from the Victory With Integrity campaign including an on-campus track and indoor tennis facility. In addition, I look forward to working with university leadership to determine how best to address the future facility needs of Baylor football.
Spring football just wrapped up with its annual Spring Game at the Highers Athletics Complex. Fan turnout was great, so we really appreciate everyone's continued support for Baylor football.
Our spring sports teams continue to thrive. Women's tennis achieved its first ever #1 nationally ranking and our men's tennis, equestrian, softball, men's and women's track and field teams are all nationally ranked.
We have received several Ask Ian questions in the past several weeks.
I just had great fun watching Baylor beat Old Dominion to earn a trip to Houston for the Sweet 16. During a tournament such as this, how does Baylor accommodate our student-athlete's academic coursework requirements? I imagine a significant amount of class time is missed. I have always been pleased to see Baylor athletics near the top of the list for academic achievement. Thank you.
Thank you for your comments about Baylor basketball and academics. During the NCAA Tournament, we have academic advisors travel with our basketball team to conduct study hall due to the missed class time. As a result, student-athletes are able to keep up with their studies while on the road.
Coach Drew has done an outstanding job in this aspect of his program as Baylor men's basketball earned national recognition from the NCAA with a 989 APR which rates in the top 10 percent of NCAA schools. Moreover, 11 of the 12 seniors who have come through his program have graduated and the 12th is on track to graduate this summer, as are the two seniors currently in the program, Tweety Carter and Josh Lomers.
Due to the recent articles about the Baylor men's basketball graduation rate of 36 percent, I think that Baylor needs to send out press releases about our true current graduation rate. The data on the NCAA page is for the 1999-2002 cohorts, which I know to be a dark period in our basketball history.
I also know that we are doing much better now as I follow the graduation rates that are published every year. I am an educator and that is important to me that my school graduates its student-athletes.
I appreciate the e-mail. We have had a number of comments in response to Education Secretary Duncan's use of federal graduation rate data and suggesting that teams falling below 40 percent be prohibited from NCAA Tournament play.
Current federal graduation rates are for that class that entered college in 2002-03, and are not reflective of today's performance. With that, imposing a ban on teams for the academic performance of student-athletes who entered as freshman eight years ago does not make sense and would penalize the wrong student-athletes. While we recognize that Baylor did have below standard graduation rates in the past in men's basketball due to some very unfortunate circumstances, we are proud of the academic performance of Coach Drew's teams.
The University did send a response to the USA Today article, and it appeared in the paper's March 24 letters to the editor.
Editor's Note: Similar questions received from Jared Morrow (Houston, Texas) and Kenna Archer (San Angelo, Texas).
Coach Drew, he has really brought the program back from the ASHES you know!!! I have just been overwhelmed with enthusiasm!!! You all keep up the fantastic job y'all have done & let's not leave the women out, they have had bumps & bruises but they are continuing to be really good, too.
Sic 'em BEARS!!!!!!!!!!
Ft. Worth, Texas
Thank you for the kind words about the Bears and Lady Bears! These are special times with both programs advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16. It has been gratifying to see the Baylor family rally behind these programs and demonstrate such pride.
We are fortunate to have great coaching leadership from Coach Mulkey and Coach Drew who both have outstanding staffs. Baylor has become an attractive destination school for top prospects and we look forward to many years of successful basketball.
After the unfortunate incident involving Brittney Griner, Coach Mulkey mentioned that she would discipline Ms. Griner. My question is: Why would someone be disciplined for protecting themselves? The officials apparently are not going to protect her from being manhandled. Look at the tape--the incident that precipitated her reaction was unbelievably unsportsmanlike.
Thank you for the e-mail and comments. Baylor and Big 12 officials considered a wide-range of issues leading up to Coach Mulkey's decision that resulted in Brittney Griner missing two games.
Beyond this announcement, we do not disclose the specific nature of the discipline in this matter. Coach Mulkey does a terrific job in working with and developing her student-athletes and that should give everyone the utmost confidence that this matter is being properly handled. In addition, since the incident, I am proud of the manner in which Brittney has handled this situation.
Is Melissa Jones out for the year for the Lady Bears?
I try to listen to most games on the internet.
Murray T. Neal
As you may have seen during the NCAA Tournament, Melissa Jones was back and played very well for the Lady Bears.
Beyond being a terrific player, Melissa brings so much to the team in terms of court presence, character and leadership.
When you look at the elite football programs in college, you see that they spend a lot of money on their programs .UT, for example, invested a lot of money into its program and look at what it is getting back. Not only triple the amount it poured into the program but also its getting a national championship contender every year.
Why isn't Baylor University spending more money on football? As you can see, it would be well worth it and would benefit all of Baylor athletics.
Thank you for the e-mail and comment/question about Baylor's investment in football. In recent years, the University has significantly increased its commitment to football in terms of salaries, operating budget and capital investments. Baylor has made a substantial commitment in hiring Coach Briles and is providing him the resources necessary to be successful. The results are clearly showing and we look forward to having a championship caliber program in the years to come.