MADISON—Marcus Landry stepped up to the dais Monday afternoon following the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team’s practice and announced that he has been ruled academically ineligible for the spring semester.
A true freshman forward from Milwaukee Vincent High School, Landry was a key reserve in 16 games, averaging 6.0 points and 3.1 rebounds in 15.4 minutes per outing.
Landry had been declared ineligible for undisclosed reasons prior to each of the Badgers’ last two games. Several sources, though, indicated that Landry’s eligibility issue was related to academics. And speculation was rampant regarding Landry’s situation from the moment it was revealed that he had not traveled with the team for the Badgers’ Jan. 18 game at Ohio State.
Landry’s statement Monday squelched the suppositions that had followed him for the past week. Landry did not take questions following his more than two-minute statement, which shined considerable light on his situation.
He said that he had previously been declared ineligible on a game-by-game basis because he was in the process of appealing the decision. Landry said his grade-point average was within “hundredths of a point” of reaching UW’s standard for freshman eligibility.
“That hurts me and I know it hurts my teammates but we all in this together and we all going to be strong and they’re going to finish out this year with a good year,” Landry said.
Landry said he met with his professors to discuss what he could have done to improve his grades.
“I do have a slight (learning) disability and it’s being worked on as we speak,” Landry said. “I was going through the process of talking to my professors. It was a little confusion with my professors and the way I was supposed to take some tests. I did retake some tests. I passed them but some of the professors I was unable to get to and unable to change what I’ve done.
“So I’m here to let you guys know up front that I’m ineligible.”
Landry was not compelled to make a statement regarding his eligibility—the two-paragraph press release that UW released Monday night typically suffices in such cases—and his teammates and coaches were impressed that he took that step.
“Just knowing that he had the guts to go out and do that shows he has a lot of character,” junior point guard Kammron Taylor said.
“That’s just a reflection on what type of person he is,” said freshman forward Joe Krabbenhoft, who is Landry’s roommate. “I’m not surprised by that. I’m proud of him. And I’m honored to be a teammate of a guy like that… He’s working hard. He’s going to be a great player.”
Landry stressed in his statement that he intends to work diligently to get his academics in order.
“Many kids from Vincent High School don’t get this opportunity to come and play (basketball) or even get into a school like this,” Landry said. “I’m one of the students that took on this challenge from Milwaukee Vincent and I’m here and I’m not going to stop fighting, I’m not going to stop working.”
As an ineligible player, Landry may not travel with the team or compete in games, but he can practice with the team in Madison and can sit on the bench during home games. He also can continue to use the Badgers’ training facilities, including the weight room and Fetzer Academic Center.
“He’s really got to maximize his time and take advantage of the resources we have on campus for him with the people over at Fetzer and really get re-focused again so that he won’t be in this situation as long as he’s here,” assistant coach Howard Moore said.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for him to step up and make that statement… and to take some ownership for not doing some things,” Moore said. “And as a coach I take some ownership… in him being in this situation too because he’s still a kid and he has to have some direction….
“I think he really understands how he really needs to step forward and ask for help more often. Because in this situation, in college, it’s a big adjustment for a kid coming from high school when everyone’s asking you if you need the help and kind of catering to you. Now, you’ve got to step forward and say, ‘Hey, I need to get some help. I need a tutor’…
“This creates some urgency. It allows him to understand how serious the academic side of it is. You can’t have the basketball without it.”
Stiemsma returns to practice
Sophomore reserve center Greg Stiemsma, the Badgers’ leading shot blocker, returned to practice Monday after missing UW’s last two games while taking a leave of absence for undisclosed medical reasons. A UW spokesman said that Stiemsma has been cleared for practice, but declined comment regarding Stiemsma’s potential return to game action. He is not expected to play Wednesday, when the Badgers host Penn State.
With Landry out of the lineup for the rest of the season, the Badgers will rely more heavily on starting center Jason Chappell and forward Brian Butch and will likely work freshman walk-on Kevin Gullickson into the post rotation.
“What it does is it makes our starters have to be a lot more assertive, get us off to really good starts,” Moore said. “And for guys like Kevin (Gullickson) and Michael (Flowers) and Joe (Krabbenhoft) they are going to have to come in (off the bench) and really elevate our play as well.”