PITTSFIELD, Maine — The Maine Central Institute postgraduate basketball team has played its last game.
Citing the program’s fit with the school’s mission as well as economic considerations, the MCI board of trustees decided this week to discontinue the school’s nationally recognized postgraduate basketball team as of July 1.
“The school thoroughly investigated the options and opportunities associated with achieving and sustaining excellence in the PG program,” according to a press release issued by the school. “Ultimately, it was determined that a competitive program would require not only significant resources to maintain its initiatives, but also additional investments on an ongoing basis.
Future resources for programs — both academic and nonacademic — will be focused where the school can achieve and sustain excellence in alignment with its mission.”
The MCI postgraduate basketball program, which typically involved 12 players in a given year as well as a head coach and an assistant coach, sent 135 players on to a NCAA Division I college basketball program and helped produce 10 future NBA players including Caron Butler, Sam Cassell, Brad Miller and Cuttino Mobley.
“However, it has become apparent that the PG basketball program no longer fits within Maine Central Institute’s mission,” according to the press release. “The postgraduate students are wonderful young men who contribute to the school on campus and to the local community. Nonetheless, because the students leave as soon as they are placed in a college [often in March], they no longer attend MCI to experience a full year of academic, social and athletic growth.”
MCI’s most prominent postgraduate basketball days came during the 1990s, when the team won five New England Preparatory School Athletic Council championships under coach Max Good and received national recognition from the likes of ESPN and Sports Illustrated for its success on the court and in helping its players qualify to attend college.
MCI finished 10-17 last season but in 2011 again won the NEPSAC Class AAA championship under current head coach Dave Campbell, who learned of his program’s impending demise in late April.
“I had heard no rumblings about this at all before I came back from spring break,” said Campbell, who has coached the MCI postgraduate team for the last six years. “I received my contract for next year on April 9, and I did some recruiting while on spring break and had been doing some scheduling, too.”
Campbell expressed disappointment in the decision but added, “It’s not only a school but it’s a business, too, and I totally understand this from the business side.”
Campbell said he is uncertain about his future.
“I hope to coach somewhere next year,” he said, “but if not I hope they’ll honor my contract here and I can do something else for them.”
MCI is at least the second school in New England to announce plans to disband or alter its postgraduate basketball program in recent months. The Winchendon (Mass.) School has decided to “reposition” its program and no longer will compete at the NEPSAC Class AAA level that typically attracts the most Division I college prospects.
“Our goal is to transition to a varsity basketball program that serves a significant portion of underclassmen as well as seniors who have been students at Winchendon for multiple years,” according to a Winchendon press release. “We would like to have this team compete in a division with schools of similar size, goals and visions. The emergent program will provide those qualified athletes with aspirations to play at college with visibility, and our target will be to regularly qualify for postseason play in the appropriate division.”
Earl Anderson, MCI’s director of athletics and activities, said the decision to end the postgraduate basketball program at his school did not come until after considerable deliberation.
“The trustees, administration, faculty, staff and students are sorry to see the program end,” he said. “The post-graduate basketball program at MCI has a storied and celebrated history. Coaches Campbell, Good and others have guided their players on the court to great success, but more importantly, have held their teams to a high standard off the court.
“This decision came after many years of discussion, analysis and consideration by both the school’s administration and the trustees. Emotionally it was a hard decision for many, including myself, but in the end the PG basketball program no longer fit into the vision for MCI’s future.”