Hutton: Purdue should have taken care of Marcius
April 25, 2013 7:04PM
Purdue Vs Nebraska Big Ten Basketball. Purdue No.55 Sandi Marcius battles to keep the ball in play as Nabraska No.32 Andre Almeida lloks on. March 14Th, 2013 I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: May 29, 2013 7:22AM
Sandi Marcius didn’t get the Purdue severance package.
He got their unrequited love and respect. He’s part of the family forever but the soon-to-be Boilermakers graduate won’t get his last two classes paid for out of the $66 million athletic budget. Matt Painter loves “the Chooch”, but he’s done with him unless he comes crawling back to him on his knees.
His sin? He quit the team.
This is how quitters are treated, like pariahs and outcasts. You are either in or out. Boiler up or hit the road, Jack. Forget about nuance, context and history. College athletics is about leverage and business. These are the lessons we take from Purdue’s refusal to pay for his classes. Maricus should just be happy he got his release, even though he put in his four years and represented the school well, earning Academic All-Big Ten honors twice.
Marcius, the third center in a three-center rotation for most of his time with Purdue, left the team with a degree in sight for the reason that most players leave.
He wanted more playing time. He wanted to be the featured guy. He wanted to be the man. He wanted to get out of what mostly had been a mediocre-at-best situation for him.
A.J. Hammons and Travis Carroll had played ahead of him much of the season and the truth is, for 31/2 years, Marcius’ career was forgettable. He averaged 1.3 points and around two rebounds per game his first two seasons. He was a Did-Not-Play (coach’s choice) five times this season. He didn’t start a game until this year.
The perception of him changed late in the season. Hammons, the player who Painter had invested most of his resources with, hit a wall, didn’t practice well and didn’t play well and Marcius had a few good games. He started five times and had one of his best games against Michigan, when he scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds. The fans, who barely knew him before the end of the season, loved “Chooch.” They loved his energy and his flair for grabbing rebounds. He turned into a crowd favorite.
Marcius appreciated the fans and the school, but he wanted out. He actually wanted out long before the late season flash.
He broke the news to Painter last month and the coach was livid. Purdue folks tried desperately to get Marcius to change his mind. Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke talked to him. Painter talked to him. They talked to people who knew him to try to get him back.
And they still haven’t given up. Burke, who is apparently living in some alternate universe, told the Indianapolis Star on Tuesday that he hopes Maricus can “look at his options, reflect and realize that West Lafayette is the best place for him.”
Refusing to pay for the classes was the last scene in a final act to get Marcius to change his mind. After the nudging, pleading and promises of “big plans” for him didn’t work, they pulled the plug on paying for his final two classes.
It’s pretty clear that Marcius, who everyone agrees is an imminently likeable kid, made a tactical mistake when he asked for his release before he had his classes paid for.
It’s reasonable to assume that he underestimated the fury that his departure would cause with Painter.
It’s also not unreasonable to ask why he shouldn’t just pay for the classes himself, which is what he’ll do — at least for now.
That’s not what matters here. It’s not about the money, which is pocket change for Purdue. It’s about big brother (Purdue) dictating the terms (Yes, Purdue invested in him but he reciprocated and fulfilled his part of the deal). It’s about what’s best for the student-athlete, not what’s best for the Purdue basketball team.
It’s about what’s right and decent.
It’s about taking care of your guys even if you don’t agree with them.
It’s about helping them in every way possible to get their degree.
It’s about assuming, for Painter at least, a portion of responsibility for the unhappiness that Marcius had over his development.
It was about moving on and letting go and really meaning it when they said they wished Marcius the best.
Of course, it’s really none of those things to Burke and Painter, who were willing to do anything to try to wrestle Marcius back to West Lafayette.
For them, it’s all business. It’s what best for them.
It was Ok for them to cut John Hart loose the year before in similar circumstances but pay for his final two classes because his departure was “involuntary.” Involuntary means, “Hit the road, dude, because you won’t play here and we want to open that scholarship for someone better. We’ll even offer an incentive: We’ll pay for your summer classes so you can graduate and start playing right away.”
That is just so much B.S.
The way this works has nothing to do with the well-being of the student and everything to do with what’s best for Purdue.
And that is sad and wrong on so many levels.
This whole saga has turned out badly for both sides, but it will be worse for Purdue. Marcius will pay for his classes and move on but a lot of people won’t soon forget the time Purdue stuck it to the poor kid who averaged 3.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and nine minutes per game in his final season.