March 8, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE — When Tony Bennett was men’s basketball coach at Washington State, football players at that Pac-10 school were required to take forms to all their classes. Instructors would sign them to verify attendance, and the players would then turn the forms in to the coaching staff.
“And maybe that is something to consider,” Bennett said Monday afternoon on the ACC coaches’ teleconference.
“But maybe I’m too old school in my thinking, that if you expect and demand your players to work hard on the practice floor and expect them to be at class and perform, then you have to be able to take people at their word on those things.”
Bennett is nearing the end of his first season at UVa. He’s had a tumultuous year, to say the least, and the team he’ll take to Greensboro, N.C., for the ACC tournament is smaller than the one he had when the school year began.
Senior forward Jamil Tucker was dismissed from the team in December for academic reasons, and sophomore swingman Sylven Landesberg was suspended Friday night for failure to live up to his academic obligations.
Landesberg, who was named second-team all-ACC on Monday, will miss the rest of the season, and his future at UVa is uncertain.
On the ACC teleconference, Bennett was asked about his policy on class attendance.
“First and foremost, the responsibility does fall to the student-athlete,” Bennett said. “But we do random class checks. There’s pretty clear guidelines with our players that we expect them to go to class.”
Bennett said players meet regularly with UVa’s Athletics Academic Affairs office and members of his staff. Players are asked how their classes are going and how they’re doing in the classes.
It’s made clear to the players, Bennett said, what is expected of them “regarding not only attendance, but participation and how you go about it.”
There are random checks to see if players are attending class, Bennett said, “but the responsibility in the end has to come” from the players.
“With Sylven’s situation, he was at a lot of his other classes,” Bennett said. “With this one obviously it didn’t happen, and it was unfortunate.”
UVa plays in the ACC tourney’s first game Thursday. Virginia, the No. 9 seed, meets No. 8 seed Boston College at noon. The winner meets top-seeded Duke at noon Friday in the first quarterfinal.