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Painter defends Purdue graduation rate

Says lower score reflects multiple transfers.

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 11:27 am

CHICAGO — Should Purdue be banned from the NCAA Tournament because of its graduation rate? Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, suggested yes.

Check the facts, Boilers coach Matt Painter said.

Duncan said in a story in Thursday's USA Today that schools below an Academic Progress Rate of 925, which predicts a rate of about 50 percent graduation, should not be allowed in the tournament. Purdue had a 919 in the last report, which covered a four-year period ending in the spring of 2009. Syracuse also did not meet the 925 standard (it was at 912).

Purdue posted a response on its website that said its 919 score reflected seven players transferring from 2005 to 2008. A player who transfers, even if in good academic standing, counts against a school's graduation rate. Specifically, schools get one point for players being in good academic standing and one point for retention. You lose that retention point when a player transfers.

Painter said most of those transfers were a byproduct of the transition from former coach Gene Keady. Some left because they didn't want to play for Painter. He said he recruited players he didn't have multi-year relationships with in an effort to quickly upgrade the talent.

“I saw we needed a better player, a more athletic guy, a quicker guy,” he said. “That was the one thing that jumped out.

“The thing that happened, and it's my downfall because as the head coach you've got to take the blame for it, is I recruited some guys I didn't have that two- to three-year relationship (with). That's so important. It taught me a valuable lesson because some of the players we took were gone in a year.”

Purdue's APR scores improved as the transfers slowed. It had scores of 956 in 2008, 1,021 in 2009 and 1,000 in 2010. School officials said the next report, set to come out in May, will show a four-year average of 954. By 2012, the projected APR will be 995.

Officials also stated the grade-point average for men's basketball rose from 2.84 in 2007 to 3.13 this year. Senior guard E'Twaun Moore was an Academic All-America last year and is positioned to do it again this season. The Boilers have had 16 academic all-Big Ten players since 2006, six from last season's team.

“We've graduated our guys the last four years who exhausted their (playing) eligibility,” Painter said. “Ryne Smith and Lewis Jackson are going to graduate next year, so it's going to be five. We have a great academic setup. We've proven that, and you can look at the numbers.

“We're going to have discipline with that. It was important early in my career to move some of those guys along. Sometimes in transferring it's a positive. In this (APR) setup, it's looked at as a negative.

“Who in this room hasn't changed jobs or gotten married or gotten a divorce? There's change in life and there's positive change.

“You've got to be happy. I don't want a kid who doesn't want to be at Purdue. I want kids who want to come here. When you have those relationships … you don't make as many mistakes. But when you come in transition, it's a very difficult task.”