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Thread: Northern Illinois University Wrestler Held Hostage

  1. #1

    Default Northern Illinois University Wrestler Held Hostage

    BY KEVIN BURK
    Father of NIU Wrestler Duke Burk

    This headline seems a little severe, but please read the following story and tell us what you think about it.

    Duke Burk, a student athlete at Northern Illinois University, is in the process of finishing his third year of school. He will have 84 hours of credit and a grade point average of 2.64. He is on pace to graduate in 4 ? years. This has required a great deal of hard work on his part because he has incorporated his academics with the rigors of being a successful NCAA Division I athlete. Duke is a history major who would like to become a teacher and a coach. He is also a 2 time national qualifier in wrestling and finished in the top 12 of his weight class at the national tournament.

    Duke can not become a teacher unless he has a teaching certificate. He has applied three times to get into the education program but has been turned down because he does not meet school standards (minimum 2.75 GPA but this year it took a 2.94 GPA due to the high number of qualified applicants). NIU?s standards for program entry are much higher than other universities, and the program is very competitive. With this in mind Duke and I met with Dr. Bowers (Program Director) and Kate Maley (Program Advisor). Both were professional, friendly, helpful, and answered our questions honestly. They told us that due to the competitiveness of the program that even if Duke earned a 2.75 GPA, his chances of getting in would be about 50%. For Duke to achieve a 2.75 GPA, it would take him getting 2 A?s and no C?s in future classes. Based on the application process, the soonest possible entry date for Duke would be the spring of 2009. The program takes at least 2 years to complete, so even if selected, Duke would be in school a minimum of 6 ? years. That is the best possible scenario.

    Based on these facts, Duke asked Coach Dave Grant to release him so he could look into other schools that would have lower requirements for their education program. If NIU does not grant this release, Duke would not be able to wrestle at another school. Many schools require only a 2.5 GPA to enter their education program, so Duke would easily qualify with his current credentials. Coach Grant said no release was possible. When asked, ?You want Duke to stay here knowing that he can?t get the degree he wants just so that he will wrestle for you?? Coach Grant?s answer was no release is possible. When Coach Grant was told that this was disappointing because he always stressed to parents and recruits that he was in it for the kids and would always do what was right for them, his response was no release is possible.

    I then talked to Glen Krupica (Deputy Director of Athletics). After I explained the situation, he said he would look into it and get back to me the next day. By 4:45 the next afternoon he had not called, so I gave him a call. Glen said that Duke was on track to get his degree in history from NIU. I mentioned that a history degree without a teaching certificate was not much of a degree. He said that many people find jobs outside their degree area and suggested that Duke could become a salesman. I said, ?Duke should go to school for 5 years with the goal of becoming a teacher/coach but become a salesman because Northern Illinois could not satisfy his academic needs?? Glen said yes to this statement, that he was supporting Coach Grant, and that no release was possible. I also mentioned to Glen that I thought it was hypocritical that Coach Grant would accept transfers from other schools as he has done in the past but would not allow an athlete with a legitimate reason to be released from his program.

    Does this coach and school really sound like they care about their student athletes? Please send any comments, questions, or possible solutions to burkk@peorianotredame.com.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Northern Illinois University Wrestler Held Hostage

    I'm pretty sure he can walk away from NIU to a Div II or III school and wrestle the next 2 years without penalty. FBallers and BBallers do it every year. I believe he can also take a DIV II scholarship if he can find a school with some money available. It's not DI, but this kid is looking out for his future beyond particaption and the DII / III may be the option.

    Outside, that he's bound by the DI rules. The rule has been tested many times without success.

    First, the coach can't issue the release, only the AD can sign it. Maybe if he called the AD and asked for a personal meeting, the AD might be willing to listen. Ordinarily through, AD act on behalf of the coach and rarely take a different perspective.

    It's most unfortunate this ugly side of DI athletics must rear it's head every year, but the rule and scholarship contract bind the student athlete to the school for a purpose.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Northern Illinois University Wrestler Held Hostage

    I am an NIU grad and follow the program rather closely. I'm not going to get into the discussion of the transfer/release situation because I can see both sides. I do know from online conversations that I have the utmost respect for both Burk brothers, they have been kind and forthright to me in multiple situations. I'll be rooting for Duke no matter where he goes...

    That being said, especially in light of the recent campus killings at NIU this is an absurd way to title an article about a disputed wrestling release...
    Last edited by Gantry; 04-12-2008 at 01:10 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Northern Illinois University Wrestler Held Hostage

    Ya, reading the headline I thought some guy had a gun to his head.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Northern Illinois University Wrestler Held Hostage

    Quote Originally Posted by Gantry View Post
    I am an NIU grad and follow the program rather closely. I'm not going to get into the discussion of the transfer/release situation because I can see both sides. I do know from online conversations that I have the utmost respect for both Burk brothers, they have been kind and forthright to me in multiple situations. I'll be rooting for Duke no matter where he goes...

    That being said, especially in light of the recent campus killings at NIU this is an absurd way to title an article about a disputed wrestling release...
    My thoughts exactly.

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