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Old 04-13-2008
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Viewpoint: It's time to free Burk

It's time to free Burk

BY JOHN SAHLY
DeKalb Daily Chronicle

Kevin Burk wants a few things pointed out first. He feels that he and his son, redshirt sophomore wrestler Duke Burk have been treated with nothing but class by Northern Illinois University, NIU wrestling coach Dave Grant, and the NIU academic support for athletes.

They've been treated fairly, love NIU and all its done and don't feel like they are asking for any special favors.

But the Burks are concerned about life after wrestling. That's why a statement written by Kevin Burk headlined ‘Northern Illinois University Wrestler Held Hostage' appeared on an Internet message board on Saturday.

When college is through, Duke Burk, who declined comment on the situation through his father, wants to become a teacher and a coach. Northern Illinois' education program is one of the crown jewels of the university and one of the best programs in the country. It's one of the many reasons Duke Burk wanted to come to DeKalb.

The problem is that as of right now, Burk won't be able to get into NIU's education program. His GPA, while solid and good enough to get into most educational programs at other colleges, isn't good enough. Kevin Burk wrote that the GPA standard for admittance has been raised this year from 2.75 to 2.94 because of a high number of qualified applicants.

“With this in mind, Duke and I met with Dr. (Jerome) Bowers (Program Director) and Kate Maley (Program Advisor),” Burk wrote. “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 (percent). 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 1/2 years. That is the best possible s cenario.”

On top of that, Burk said they received a letter in February that his son, despite never failing a class, will have to take summer school because he hasn't taken enough hours.

“(Grant and academic support) should have known this was occurring,” Kevin Burk said.

With that information, Kevin Burk said his son went to Grant to ask him to release him from his scholarship so he could pursue other schools. Kevin Burk said Grant, who did not return repeated phone calls from the Daily Chronicle on Saturday, told Duke Burk a release wasn't possible.

Assistant media relations director for wrestling, Russell Houghtaling, said Grant, Burk and members academic support would meet this week to discuss options for Burk.

But Burk has already been burned once in that he'll have to take summer school and didn't find out until February. According to his dad, he has already been denied in his request for a release from his scholarship. In my view he doesn't have a reason to trust that he's getting the best advice.

Despite that, Kevin Burk said his son has made a commitment to NIU.

“If he's not released, he'll stay at NIU to honor his contract,” Burk said.

Burk qualified for the NCAA Championships twice and has two seasons of eligibility left. He's a key member of the team for the next two seasons and can win a lot of matches.

My question is this, at what point does athletics trump academics?

The NCAA, as well as most universities, shove down our throats that college athletes are student-athletes. Most of them are going pro in something other than sports. We get it.

But when an athlete, and a successful one that's brought good publicity to the university in this case, decides that academics are more important and his best option is to leave one school for another in order to accomplish that goal, his concerns are seemingly pushed aside.

If the facts presented by Kevin Burk are all true, it's immature and selfish to not release Duke Burk from his scholarship and allow him to pursue his degree elsewhere.

Free Duke.
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Old 04-13-2008
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Artheritis Artheritis is offline
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If I understand this, there's nothing keeping Burk from transferring to another school to study, he just can't wrestle if it's a D1 school.
Personally, I think refusing to give him his release is pretty bush-league, but that's Grant's decision to make, not mine. The GPA requirement is not something new, the reality is that his GPA isn't there. My feeling is he should go to another school, put wrestling aside, and concentrate on getting his degree.
- I don't agree with the "these guys are at a disadvantage to the student poulation at large because of the time they spend in sports" angle. A surprisingly large number of guys, when forced to closely manage thier time because of sports, do better in class than they do after they stop wrestling.
- I also am not sold on the "NIU has such tough standards argument". Sorry to say it, but we're talking about NIU here, not Northwestern, U of I, Notre Dame, or any of the tier one scholasic school out there.
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Old 04-13-2008
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Danny Burk Danny Burk is offline
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No one is saying NIU has crazy hard academic standards. There are programs at the university, however, that are tough and competitive to get into. The Teachers Cert program is one of those, as well as their Physical Therapy program. Both of these programs get many more applicants than they have positions, and therefore they each have an extensive list of very solid and credible students who are waiting to get into the program.
Bottom line is - a coach has to do what is best for his athletes. Whether he likes that or not. When talking about an athletes academic life and his career after sports, the coach can not be selfish and let his ego get in the way. I understand this can be a hard situation as a coach, but they must continue to see what is best for the student athlete. As the article says, Duke will win a lot of matches in the next two years. But at what cost? He will have to give up a major part of his education, and in a sense will be losing money. He wont get his teaching Certificate until his 7th or 8th year of college. That will set him back almost 3 years of a paycheck and being out into the real world. But, as long as he wins some matches, that is ok?? Also, how will the coaches treat Duke?? His teammates like him and are going to like him one way or another. They support him. But will his coaches?? Of they arent supporting him in something like this, having to do with academics, how can Duke trust them to support him 100% in wrestling as well?? If Duke had had some problems and was screaming at coaches all the time and not supporting his team, then I could see where issues might arise is not releasing him. But, Duke doesnt have that. Hes a great teammate and helps the other guys out. Now, all Duke is asking is for his coach to help him out a little bit.
FREE DUKE

Last edited by Danny Burk; 04-13-2008 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 04-13-2008
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Maybe I missed it in the 8 or so page thread on the college board, but IF released, what schools are Duke looking at?
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Old 04-13-2008
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Duke will look at any school that has a teacher's cert program that he can get into (and there are many...), and also has a wrestling team. Obviously, he would like to go to a decent program in both teachers cert and wrestling. But, mainly, he just wants to a find a school that gives him a chance to get the degree he wants, in a decent amount of time.
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Old 04-13-2008
HardCore HardCore is offline
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Okay, I am missing something. How is it going to take him another 3-4 years to get his teaching cert? Is he planning on totally starting over? First off, if he really wants to teach, he might want to consider another area; history is one of the hardest areas to get a job because there are so few positions. Secondly, why is this keeping him from collecting a paycheck after he graduates? If this is something that he really wants, there are many ways to get it. He can work as a sub while he gets his masters in education and his teacher cert. I haven't seen many programs that would take you more than 36 hours to finish and this puts him at a higher level on the payscale right off the bat. I know several of the teachers that I work with did earned their degree that way. If his education is that important to him, he may have to put the wrestling aside and persue his teaching cert.
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Old 04-13-2008
colonel kurtz colonel kurtz is offline
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If he can go to a d2-d3 school without any penalty then what is the problem.Seems like its one of those hard life choices he needs to make.

1.stay at the school work harder find some good tutors and wrestle for the team you gave your commitment to and it takes you 6 yrs instead of 5

2.Go to a d2,d3 school and move on and do both wrestle and learn.

3.give up wrestling or sit out a year and go to a new d1 school.

I can see why some of you say the coach should release him but he the student gave his word also and for what ever reason he hasnt been able to do his part.Seems he tried to get everything and just couldnt make it work.So you have to suck it up and make a choice.
i can see the coaches pov. also.

tuff situation but i dont think the coach should take the bulk of the blame here

Last edited by colonel kurtz; 04-13-2008 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 04-13-2008
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Danny Burk Danny Burk is offline
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Well, he was planning on finishing in 5 years. If he can not get into the program until Fall of 09, that will be his fifth year. The program takes at least 2 years to complete, but most people go through it in 2.5 years. So, at least 6 years he would be at NIU, best case scenario. And subbing is not the greatest gig in the world. You do not make a whole lot of money subbing. Why should someone with a college degree have to sub??
Also, history is not a bad field to get into. There are a lot of jobs opening up for History teachers, especially those who can coach.
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Old 04-13-2008
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No Mention of Illinois Matmen

The DeKalb Chronicle Newspaper wrote:

That's why a statement written by Kevin Burk headlined ‘Northern Illinois University Wrestler Held Hostage' appeared on an Internet message board on Saturday.

Is there any "journalistic" reason that the reporter didn't mention www.illinoismatmen.com by name so that the reader could go and see Keven Burk's article in it's entirety. The media really bugs me sometimes.

As to Duke, it appears extreemly complicated, looks like the Burk's are going about with dignity. Good Luck to Duke.
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Old 04-13-2008
Timesfreelanceguy Timesfreelanceguy is offline
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I don't know. My paper deleted references to them (IM and IA Wrestling Insider) in a piece or two I'd written prior to the all-star meet at Bettendorf. Occasionally newspapers want their readers just to go to their website. Inviting readers to go to another one means they go to one that local advertisers don't support. Of course, we use wire stories by other papers all the time. Admittedly, contradictory positions to take.
Shannon
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