One of the ETSU slogans adopted in the 2000’s was: “ETSU, Winning the Right Way.” In conjunction with the NCAA trying to show that college athletics is more than just a pro sports factory, they released very real numbers showing that the overwhelming majority of college athletes will “Go Pro” in something other than sports.
For ETSU men’s basketball, making sure the athletes are ready to go pro in something other than sports is job one. Under the leadership of Murry Bartow, ETSU has not only managed to rack up more 20 win seasons and postseason appearances than most of his predecessors, he’s always graduated nearly all of them. In a world where at one time coaches like Bob Huggins sported a classic underachieving ZERO PERCENT graduation rate, Bartow has followed in the footsteps of men like his father and former Indiana coach Bob Knight. Four year players such as Zakee Wadood, Travis Strong, Jerald Fields, Sam Oatman, Andrew Reed and Mike Smith have all tasted postseason glory, but next to memories of cutting down nets is something that’s irreplaceable, a college degree. There’s been success from Juco transfers too, players like Dillion Sneed have gone on to obtain his degree, and certainly will have one heck of a career in broadcasting when he’s done striking fear in pro leagues overseas.
There’s just one, small flaw. Now, none of us are perfect, and neither is Bartow’s graduation rate. He has a blemish, Tim Smith, the legendary guard who once went on a 10-0 run at Tennessee in 60 seconds, by himself, is one semester away from graduation. When Mr. Smith recieves his degree, which I’m told should be after the fall 2012 semester, Buc hoops will have graduated every four year player that’s came through and stayed at ETSU start to finish. We know some have left the Bucs for whatever the reason, whether it be horrific tragedy or it just doesn’t work out but if they’ve stayed, they’ve graduated. That, is winning the right way.