Reggie Groves has been suspended indefinitely from the Canisius men’s basketball team for academic reasons, the school’s athletic department told reporters before Friday night’s game after Groves did not participate in warm-ups.
Head coach Tom Parrotta said after the game that Groves is not academically ineligible by NCAA standards but that he chose to suspend the sophomore himself until he gets some “favorable response” from the academic side of campus.
Parrotta spoke about Groves for the first 5 ½ minutes of his 11-minute press conference after Canisius’ 78-66 loss to Manhattan. The entire discussion is transcribed below, with notable points bolded.
Every time Groves comes up in a post-game conference, Parrotta finds a way to mention that Groves has had three knee operations and that his knee (and subsequently, agility and effectiveness) is not what it was when Groves was brought in as a recruit. Keep in mind that Division I scholarships are one-year, renewable contracts, which any coach of any sport may choose not to offer any returning player; a fact that Parrotta knows and could possibly be considering as he discusses his 23-year-old sophomore.
- Parrotta was informed of the situation when a professor contacted him.
- Groves was suspended by Parrotta, not the NCAA.
- The issue is limited to one class, not several.
- Parrotta would not say when Groves would be back, only that he would need to “get some favorable response back from some academic folks to be able to have that conversation to move forward.”
- It was especially important to Parrotta that the standards remain strict during a losing season (recall that the program receives national recognition for having all of its players graduate with Master’s degrees under Parrotta).
- Parrotta used Groves as an example for his new recruits who have to sit out this season (Freddy Asprilla, Issac Sosa, Jordan Heath) to show them “this is how we do things.”
- Groves watched the game in street clothes from the stands near corner of the gym. When asked why he wasn’t suiting up, he said “I’m on punishment.”
The Buffalo News’ Rodney McKissic opened the press conference asking about the status of Reggie Groves.
Tom Parrotta: He is going to take some time away to focus on academics. I’m glad you brought it up because we have a pretty high standard here. We’ve had unbelievable success in the classroom and you have to have certain things in place that guys have to follow through with. It’s simply one of those things that if you get those priorities out of whack a little bit … it’s always going to be academics here, then it’s going to be basketball, then it’s going to be social, and if any of those things get intertwined, I have to step in and make sure they get realigned in the right way. Nothing serious, just is a matter of not taking care of business in the classroom. It was one class and we nipped it and I said this is not a road we’re going to go down, especially in the midst of a season where you are struggling, and it’s one of those bridge-years where we have a program in place, there’s always going to be a program in place, and those same conditions are always going to apply to everyone, win, lose or draw. That’s why we have a strong program, to be able to get through a year like this, because we have a lot to look forward to, we really do. When we’re at full strength, meaning in a year from now with a lot of different folks, we’re going to be okay. But I’m not going to let anybody get those priorities out of whack – that will never be the case here.
McKissic followed up, asking how long Groves will be out for.
TP: What I said to Reggie is, ‘this is not the time for you to be around. Get your stuff together academically.’ He’s going to get together with some academic folks and kind of square away some things, and we’re not talking about three, four, five classes, we’re talking about a class. But I want to get some favorable response back from some academic folks to be able to have that conversation to move forward. That’s kind of how I left it. I didn’t give it much thought because I act on those things pretty quickly when it comes to academics … Let’s face it guys, Reggie is someone who’s had three knee operations – and I mean this in all due respect because he’s a really good kid – his knee is not nearly where it was when he first got here. So he’s very, very limited.
I asked if Groves violated an NCAA rule or if it was one of Parrotta’s team rules.
TP: Oh, no, no, no. [Not NCAA.] If I was to say if it was a major thing or minor thing, it’s minor. Things are nipped here when they’re minor so they don’t turn into major. This is the time to step up and make sure the conditions for your program are very much adhered to. And that’s what it was. Nothing serious. He’s not cooperating in one class. When you’re a student-athlete here, you get noticed. So if the professor reaches out and says he’s not carrying his weight in this class, I intervene. And I intervened.
I asked Parrotta to clarify if a professor had come to him about the incident.
TP: Well, yeah. That’s the relationship I have with folks here. And that’s a good thing. That’s how I want it, too. Because I have a very good reputation here as far as academics are concerned. So I want to know everything. We check every class. Every class that these guys go to we check. … If they’re not where they’re supposed to be or doing what they’re supposed to do, I find out about it. And that’s our program. That’s why we’re national news. Not for wins and losses this year, but for doing things the right way. Our guys have more degrees that you can shake a stick at. That’s how it’s done. I’m sending a message to the [transfers] that are sitting out, because they’re new here: This is how we do things. Because they’re all going to get their degrees.