Sunday, July 15, 2007

Kenny Drummond's Prep School Thingy

From the Greensboro News-Record:

Drummond calls his venture Future Academy, but at this point, it’s clearly more future than academy. He says he will need $6 million in private donations to make it happen, but he has not shown regulatory agencies the structure necessary to sustain even a rudimentary business or nonprofit organization.

Drummond has been praised by some parents of basketball players, of whom 10 were on the Future Academy team in 2006-07. The players were high school graduates seeking better college basketball opportunities. They came from Forsyth County in most cases and paid $6,000 each in tuition to Drummond’s program, housed at that time in a community center in High Point. The money covered the cost of uniforms and travel to games and tournaments across the country.

Operating independently of local, state and federal agencies, Drummond did not employ teachers. He was the only full-time staff member.

Emphasis is mine. A so-called prep school operating out of a community center with one employee who also happens to be the basketball coach. That sounds familiar...

[Lutheran Christian Academy] does not have its own building or formal classrooms, and it operates out of a community center in a ragged North Philadelphia neighborhood. It has just one full-time employee: the basketball coach, a former sanitation worker who founded the school. One former student, who attended the school for three months, said it did not use traditional textbooks and that the coach, Darryl Schofield, was the only teacher.

Two reports on Lutheran Christian Academy--the above Washington Post piece and a New York Times investigation--got the whole NCAA prep school crackdown rolling. Philly Lutheran was banned by the NCAA earlier this year.

Drummond's school seems to have less redeeming academic value than Shofield's, if that's possible. Future Academy isn't accredited, and with everything the NCAA is doing these days, Drummond really should know better. But if he's worried about the NCAA, he's not letting on. And actually, it may be that the NCAA isn't relevant in this case. I'm not sure. If his school deals strictly with athletes who already have high school degrees, he may be able to operate outside of the NCAA's prep school/diploma mill scope.

Academics, as vaguely offered by Kenny Drummond:

As for academics, Drummond said he didn't promise a broad-based, traditional curriculum or anything else that would magically grant NCAA eligibility to a previously unqualified athlete.

"Whatever (academic credentials) they come in with, that's what they leave with," Drummond said. "The coaches who recruit the kids, what they love about the program is that we introduce the kids to the work. Parents love it because we were able to get their kids to see the bright side of going to college. We taught these kids how to work. There was no pressure to perform; there was pressure to learn."


He described Future Academy's academic program this way: "When students come to our program, they choose a major. And we go over to High Point University or A&T and Winston-Salem State. We buy these kids books in those majors. We put together a syllabus for the whole semester, and we show them how to do the work so that when they go to college the following year, they're familiar with the work already. That's why we call it a preparation course."

Asked how students could effectively learn from textbooks without the guidance of recognized experts, Drummond said, "I show them how to do the work. I'm a smart guy myself. I showed the guys. ... We talked about the work."

That last bit is kind of dubious.