Marquette players earn everything they receive

Today’s Marquette Tribune featured an editorial asking new Vice President and Director of Athletics Larry Williams to be active in changing the Marquette athletics’ culture. The editorial believed “the best place to start would be with our most prominent athletics programs: men and women’s basketball.”

You can read the editorial here, which discusses the preferential treatment and celebrity status the men’s team has on campus and how the team is isolated from the rest of campus. The editorial also discusses how the sense of entitlement basketball players has could lead to problems down the line, going so far as to link the Xavier-Cincinnati on-court brawl to something that could happen at Marquette should this trend continue.

But what the editorial did not mention is possibly the most important part of the equation when discussing a topic such as this: the Marquette men’s basketball has earned, not been given, every perk that comes their way.

Buzz Williams has become known for recruiting players with stories similar to his. While part of the reason Williams has been active recruiting junior college players is to balance his roster, a larger part of that equation is because Williams wants players who have had to work to get where they are.

“I like guys that have had to ride in 15-passenger vans,” Williams said at last year’s NCAA Tournament. “I like guys that when they order, they just use a number. ‘I’d like No. 2, the combo meal.’ I think recruiting, as things have evolved, tends to spoil kids. And within the culture that I coach in on a daily basis, spoiled kids really struggle with dealing with me.”

Jimmy Butler, Joe Fulce, Dwight Buycks, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder were all junior college players, riding in 15-passenger vans, ordering combo meals, looking for a break and, most importantly, working their tails off to earn a Division I scholarship.

Williams saw something in each of those players and rewarded their hard work with that scholarship.

After Monday’s win over Louisville, Williams shared a story of how he recruited sophomore Davante Gardner.

“I knew that it would be an adjustment for him to learn to work the way that we demand you work,” Williams said. “And so I was really critical of him in front of his parents, in front of his coach. ‘Mean’ would be the nicest thing you could say about how I recruited him because I wanted to see how he would respond.”

Williams isn’t looking for flashy one-and-done athletes who think they are bigger than the program. He simply won’t recruit that way because that’s not the kind of person he is. He wants players who understand the value of hard work and are willing to put in the time to become players that reflect how he runs his program.

So while Williams looks for hard-working athletes in the recruiting process, the real work begins once the players arrive on campus.

There is a consensus in the program that Boot Camp, the 10-day grueling workout leading up to the beginning of the season, is the most strenuous stretch of run the players have ever gone through in their lives. The timed wind sprints measure physical strength but Williams says that, more importantly, mental strength is just as important.

Again, Williams wants mentally tough athletes who are willing to work for what they get. Only when each player has finished Boot Camp do they receive their practice gear. Just like everything else, they don’t GET their practice gear. They EARN it.

On the academic side, the players deal with completing schoolwork while taking constant trips to the East to compete in games. But that’s not to say they aren’t working just as hard as other students on campus.

Freshman Todd Mayo took an official visit to Marquette last year and, among the highlights of his trip, the one thing that stood out to him was that following the Golden Eagles’ win over Providence one Sunday afternoon, the team was back in the Al McGuire Center that night for study hall.

“I liked how Marquette put school first,” Mayo said.

Each player has a weekly schedule put together every Sunday night that details when the player has class, individual workouts, team practice and study hall. They even get a nutritional schedule that tells them what to eat and when to eat. So while they are off in their secluded dining area, there’s a rhyme and reason to what they’re doing.

While doing an interview, Marquette Associate Sports Director Scott Kuykendall passed Vander Blue and reminded him he had a meeting with the coaching staff that afternoon.

“Yeah, at 3:42,” Blue said.

These schedules are, literally, by the minute.

To say that the Marquette basketball team works harder than anyone on campus would be an insult to the daily strain they go through to keep Marquette as one of the top basketball programs in the country.

And what’s it all for?

The Marquette men’s basketball team earned more than $5.5 million during the 2009-2010 season, which was the 16th highest for college basketball programs and 56th highest for all Division I programs, football included.

These numbers help pay for all other Division I sports at Marquette and, in a number that can’t be calculated, have helped put Marquette on the national scene through nationally televised games, consistent NCAA Tournament appearances and sponsorship through the Jordan brand, something only three other schools in the country have (North Carolina, Georgetown, California).

If you think that Marquette basketball players are treated like celebrities on campus, it’s because they are.

They have not been given anything.

Rather, they have earned every perk that comes with being a Division I student athlete. If that is apartment housing, so be it. If they get to eat meals alone, if they get to study in their own area of the Al McGuire Center, if they receive more pairs of basketball shoes than they know what to do with, so be it.

“They’re just kids,” assistant coach Brad Autry said in an interview last November. “They just happen to be really good at basketball.”


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12 Comments on “Marquette players earn everything they receive”

  1. Mike Nelson
    January 17, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    The editorial acknowledges everything written above.

    The editorial said, “This is not to suggest the basketball teams are undeserving of respect. Members of both teams pull off feat that few can. They are full-time athletes and full-time students. They have strict schedules that usually involve early-morning practices, specific study tables and planned meal times. It’s hard to be that dedicated to a college sport and still attend classes and get work done, and this is something for which any athlete should be commended.”

    The editorial agrees with this piece 100 percent (I think). The players earn everything that comes their way. They are extremely hard-working people. No denial at all from anyone who contributed a voice in any way to the editorial (I hope).

    But the point of the editorial is to say that they are STUDENT-athletes. But if you were to ask many students at Marquette if they felt that basketball players are part of the student body, I think they would say, “No.”

    In part, that’s because of time restrictions. They are EXTREMELY dedicated to their craft which makes them busy people and have to use their time wisely – which is also brought up in the editorial.

    But they are advocates of Marquette and the student population, so they need to be in touch with it – which is what was the purpose of the editorial, as I understood it, when The Tribune editorial board discussed writing it.

    I would love to hear from student-readers on this topic.

  2. GoldenZebra
    January 17, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    Mike Nelson, I think the purpose of the editorial of “being in touch with the student population” was not achieved. The article came across as whiny and did not offer solutions, rather it came across as complaining. The players do get involved with students, they are active on twitter and facebook and regularly interact with the rest of the students on campus. They are like every other student here, so its not like one needs special permission to wave at them like any other student. If you know them, they speak to you. Its just like everyone else.

    The editorial makes it seem that the players ignore students and do not integrate themselves with the rest of the students. When do they have the time to do so? While every other student is getting drunk or studying for their tests, the players are practicing hard or in sanctioned study hall. In class, I am sure they interact just like every other student, they are still human beings.

    The editorial was really poorly written without any insight into the approach.

  3. GoldenZebra
    January 17, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    On another note, this reply article written by the Paint Touches crew really hit the nail on the head and exposed the editorial in the tribune for being shortsighted and poorly constructed. Well done lads.

  4. Bill Derleth
    January 17, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    Can Mike Nelson even read??? Here’s the main point of Mark’s article..these guys are busy…..they make 5.5 million dollars so the other pseudo-athletes can run around the country and pretend to play college athletics. If you want an integrated team then go to a Division III school and tell the women’s tennis team to climb aboard a bus.

  5. James Damico
    January 17, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    Bill- I Agree with you on your blunt assesment that these guys are busy but I think that calling the other student athletes “pseudo-athletes” is a bit harsh. I would personally love to see DJO attempt to play Lacrosse or Soccer or Crowder pick up a tennis racket. I do believe the basketball team practices day in and day out the hardest and is very deserving of respect but I think if you truly are a Marquette or even sports fan in general you should give all the athletes respect they deserve as they busted their ass in HS to get a high major D1 scholarship… what can you say you did? See they are still athletes I tried out for the lax team didn’t make it and I was all conference in HS… see they are the top of their respective sports.

  6. Mike Nelson
    January 17, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    I completely agree with you GoldenZebra, I was disappointed with the way the editorial turned out because I think there’s a good point in there.

    And thanks Bill! I will work on my reading skills in the future!

  7. Mike Smith
    January 18, 2012 at 12:18 am #

    Mike is the good point that people should stop reading the tribune?

  8. Mike Nelson
    January 18, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    Mr. Smith: No, I would advise against that. But I have a bias as an employee for the Tribune.

    I don’t think one editorial should make readers turn away, but to each his own.

  9. DOC
    January 20, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    I know during my time at MU, I knew a few of the basketball players (Women’s and Men’s) from my classes. Yes, while they are celebrities around campus, I still saw them as fellow classmates because they came to class and did the work required. Granted some of them did so a little more energetically than others, but they still did it. They also interacted with us during class and outside class when you saw them. So to say they are not a part of the the student body is wrong and unfair to them.

  10. hyunckel
    January 26, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    I was at marquette 1998 – 2000. I bump into several bball players (jared love, brian wardle, nicky taggart, lisa oldenburg among others) in campus and they were very well looked like student-athlete, not celebrity. But I am very much surprised with the sexual assault allegation since my perception towards the program is very positive..

  11. Loren Farr
    April 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    The Marquette Trib editorial is uninformed and naive.

    The members of the basketball team have a full time job in addition to being students. The marketing value of there work transcends the 5.5 million of actual dollars the team brings in to the school. The allows for lower tuition for students, more pay for profs and prestige for Marquette sports and academics.

    In terms of over signing scholarships — life happens players transfer for a number of reasons — family issues, academic problems, and wanting a different athletic opportunity. The NCAA says athletic scholarships are issued for one year with the option of renewing. If a coach does not anticipate some level of attrition he will be a losing coach and out of work.

    Did anyone on the Trib editorial staff notice that all the players who are transferring were at the basketball banquet last night. They are family and will remain part of that special Marquette family as they head in different directions.


  1. Daybreak Doppler: Three Days Later, Focusing on the Positive | - January 18, 2012

    […] Paint Touches with how the Marquette players earn everything they receive. […]

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