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Great, What's Rick Stansbury Going To Do Now?

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I have been following the NCAA's crackdown on prep school diploma mills for a while now:

The Growing Prep School Problem
NCAA Pointlessly Bans 15 "Diploma Mills"
NCAA Finally Making Progress On The Diploma Mill Front?

What compelled the NCAA to finally begin to examine prep schools were a couple of investigations conducted by the New York Times and the Washington Post last February. You can find the Post article here and the NYT piece is here. I highly recommend both.

Since those reports, the NCAA has been conducting a widespread inquiry into preparatory schools. Its methods of inquiry have been both poorly-communicated and clumsy, and the results have in some cases been comical. In the NCAA's initial round of bannings, several institutions targeted by the NCAA did not even have basketball programs. Other instutions were no longer in operation. Based largely on the response to a questionnaire that it sent to prep schools, the NCAA compiled a watch list that included illegitmate and legitimate institutions both, and that pissed off a number of astonished administrators from the latter.

From a recent Washington Post article:

Since it announced July 5 that it had found more than 30 problematic private schools, the NCAA impugned schools that never have fielded basketball teams and punished schools that do not exist, administrators said. It confused two sets of schools with the same name. It sanctioned a program for special-needs children in Virginia and an alternative education program run by a California probation department.

This summer, it questioned the academics at two prominent Virginia schools, Oak Hill and Fork Union, and abruptly cleared them a couple weeks later. In at least one other case, the NCAA publicly tarnished a program, cleared it, yet did not announce the change.

Nice, huh?

But although the NCAA has had more than its share of problems getting this thing done, it has managed to identify and ban a couple of the worst offenders. Like the Christopher Robin Academy in New York, a school that Ed Cota attended. And, finally, Philadelphia's Lutheran Christian Academy (not even a faux-religious school name can protect you from Myles Brand's omnipresence!):

In a written statement, NCAA officials explained that Lutheran Christian Academy and Prince Avenue Prep were added to the list after reporting they used the Accelerated Christian Education program as their primary educational method. The statement said that while the ACE generally gives schools a status of "model" or "quality" for those schools that meet its standards, that Lutheran Christian Academy and Prince Avenue Prep had not achieved either level.

What is Lutheran Christian Academy? Read that Post investigation. This excerpt should give you an idea:

The school does not have its own building or formal classrooms, and it operates out of a community center in a ragged North Philadelphia neighborhood. It has just one full-time employee: the basketball coach, a former sanitation worker who founded the school. One former student, who attended the school for three months, said it did not use traditional textbooks and that the coach, Darryl Schofield, was the only teacher.

As Gregg Doyel wrote last year:

Most college coaches won't touch a kid from Philly Lutheran. It's not the kids, they tell me, but the school. Any list of prep schools thought to be grade-giving factories has to include Philly Lutheran, a bunch of college coaches tell me.

The Post went after Philly Lutheran hard, sending a couple of reporters to Philadelphia while having a couple more -- and a researcher -- working on it from Washington D.C. That's terrific.

As for any college coach who has had, does have, or will have a player on his roster from Philly Lutheran ... you deserve whatever scrutiny is coming your way.

One of the coaches who has been put under scrutiny is Mississippi State's Rick Stansbury. Stansbury's star player, Jamont Gordon, attended Philly Lutheran. This is from the NYT's article:

Jamont Gordon went to Lutheran after withdrawing from Oak Hill last April. Coach Smith said Gordon would have been a borderline prospect to qualify for college academically if he had completed the final quarter of his senior year at Oak Hill.

Gordon now leads Mississippi State in scoring as a freshman. Bulldogs Coach Rick Stansbury said Gordon had gone to Lutheran to "finish one class." Told that Gordon had left Oak Hill needing to complete all his classes, Coach Stansbury said: "He went there to finish. That's all. He did what he had to do to finish his academics."

Coach Stansbury, who refused several requests to allow Gordon to comment for this article, said he had no reason to check whether Lutheran, which has been open in various forms for eight years, was accredited. Despite Gordon's tenuous academic situation and the fact that Mississippi State's top recruit, Vernon Goodridge, also went there, Coach Stansbury said he neither visited Lutheran nor talked to teachers or guidance counselors. He did, however, go to the gym.

"We don't talk to teachers when we're recruiting kids," he said. "Everyone does it differently."

So Rick Stansbury went to Philadelphia, fingers in his ears and humming a tune the whole way.

"It's kinda weird, coach. We only have one teacher, and he's the bask--"
"La la la la. I am not listening. La la la la."

Vernon Goodridge, mentioned above, also successfully enrolled at Mississippi State. Goodridge is a 23-year-old sophomore (he's older than all but one player on the MSU roster), but I'm sure that doesn't say anything about his academic credentials. Nah.

For now, at least, Stansbury and others (I'm looking at you, UTEP) are going to have to find their players elsewhere.

NC State signee Tracy Smith, who is rumored to be having trouble getting qualified, attends the Mount Zion Christian Academy--an institution currently "subject to further review" by the NCAA.