Annoyed by the criticism he has received for admitting he only read one book from cover-to-cover in three years at UConn, guard Kemba Walker did his best to defend his school's reputation on Wednesday.
In a passage about his quest to graduate in three years with a degree in sociology, Sports Illustrated reported Walker admitted that the first book he made it all the way through was William Rhoden's Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete. Walker told reporters Wednesday that he was talking about loving the book so much he read it cover-to-cover and that the criticism was unfair.
"That's just what people want," Walker said. "They want to bring us down. Regardless of what they say, I'm still graduating in three years, so that comment means absolutely nothing. I've read a lot of books."
"It's a big emphasis on academics at UConn," he said. "They make sure we are student-athletes first. I'm going to get my degree. I will find time to do my work."
The flap about Walker's comments comes at a time when UConn's academic reputation is already under siege.
UConn is in danger of forfeiting at least one scholarship if it does not meet the NCAA's minimum benchmark Academic Progress Rate score of 925. Last year, the Huskies recorded a four-year APR of 930, including an 844 for the 2008-09 season.
"Eight straight years, we made the APR," UConn coach Jim Calhoun told reporters Wednesday. "If because someone left early or didn't finish, all those various things that get you...when you have 16 kids leave (for the pros) in a 10-year period, you are more likely to be more open to (a low APR) happening."
A low APR would be especially costly financially for Calhoun. If the Huskies don't meet the APR minimum, Calhoun stands to lose an $87,500 bonus for winning the national title and would have to donate $100,000 to the university's scholarship fund.
- Kemba Walker