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Craig Upchurch


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Here is a Twitter thread i compiled over the weekend detailing the Craig Upchurch controversy. Upchurch is still a common topic of discussion here so I tried to clear up some parts of the story and give a reference for people who weren't around for that period of time.

 

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6 minutes ago, Box and Won said:

I really don't think it's hyperbole to say that this incident altered the history of the program.

Not in any way.

Grawer had multiple obstacles to success, including his own style of coaching, but he overcame many of them and had the program right on the verge of a complete comeback.  Upchurch would have given us 3 NCAA trips in a row until Bonner left.  How many other locals would have come to follow Upchurch and continued to build a winner?  There is a scenario where Grawer had 800 something career wins and is still the coach at SLU.

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it is depressing to realize that our beloved BoT is still as inept and program retarding three decades ago as it is today.

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1 hour ago, Box and Won said:

I really don't think it's hyperbole to say that this incident altered the history of the program.

There are so many things in SLU history where it was very obvious, in the damn moment, that it was shooting themselves in the foot for no good reason. And a lot of them stem from this idea that SLU is some sort of Harvard on the Mighty Mississippi...

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1 hour ago, billiken_roy said:

it is depressing to realize that our beloved BoT is still as inept and program retarding three decades ago as it is today.

Were we even governed by a Board of Trustee's back then? Not sure if we were. 

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There always was a BOT but when Biondi was here they were his people and they did what he wanted.  The problem here was that Biondi would not overrule the Jesuit who denied Upchurch after he successfully completed summer school - can only assume that he agreed and thus another example of his lack of interest in athletics.

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Blake Ahearne was another missed opportunity kid went to Desmet and couldn’t beg on- now assistant coach at Memphis Grizzlies. Craig Upchurch actually took summer school classes at SLU after high school and was judged by faculty not capable in spite of passing grades. His morals were never part of the conversation but years later “the situation” might be viewed as an “open door” that could well have been prevented if social and psychological background and culture mix qualification was applied - I don’t know, but you do have a community of naive freshman that you are affecting by introducing highly driven athletes- someone has to say take a chance on someone like CG or not.  I was in line at a chicken place just North on Grand and Mel Robinson was telling Craig Upchurch that studying was more important. Mel Robinson got in and struggled.

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10 minutes ago, cheeseman said:

There always was a BOT but when Biondi was here they were his people and they did what he wanted.  The problem here was that Biondi would not overrule the Jesuit who denied Upchurch after he successfully completed summer school - can only assume that he agreed and thus another example of his lack of interest in athletics.

i dont think biondi took the reigns at Saint Louis University until the fall following the upchurch fiasco.

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1 hour ago, JMM28 said:

There are so many things in SLU history where it was very obvious, in the damn moment, that it was shooting themselves in the foot for no good reason. And a lot of them stem from this idea that SLU is some sort of Harvard on the Mighty Mississippi...

xtra silly as u can c Wash U from the U's cathedral :)

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If we had PHD level academics in PE such as the big ten schools and others it would be an easier environment for some kids who only see college ball as a stepping stone to the pros. Wash U and SLU comparisons fall short of broaching the myriad of choices for 19 year olds and their parents. Being protective of your community identity is a lot bigger idea than

letting Craig Upchurch become the media focal point during basketball season. Grads talk much more about what they learned than who lead the basketball team in scoring and rebounds. 
 

if you think differently: why is every basketball game free pizza and/or free t shirt night for students. Not too many at SLU or Wash U even attend games unless there are incentives.

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Thought I would bump this thread for those who may want to say to themselves: "You thought today was bad, at least it wasn't as bad as Upchurch"

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4 hours ago, SluSignGuy said:

Thought I would bump this thread for those who may want to say to themselves: "You thought today was bad, at least it wasn't as bad as Upchurch"

Actually there are many paralells and this may be another tipping point in the program. Grawer and Fords tenures are becoming more and more similar as well.

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On 4/18/2022 at 11:30 AM, GOSLU68 said:

If we had PHD level academics in PE such as the big ten schools and others it would be an easier environment for some kids who only see college ball as a stepping stone to the pros. Wash U and SLU comparisons fall short of broaching the myriad of choices for 19 year olds and their parents. Being protective of your community identity is a lot bigger idea than

letting Craig Upchurch become the media focal point during basketball season. Grads talk much more about what they learned than who lead the basketball team in scoring and rebounds. 
 

if you think differently: why is every basketball game free pizza and/or free t shirt night for students. Not too many at SLU or Wash U even attend games unless there are incentives.

That's not how I feel, but that certainly seems to be how things are at SLU. That's not how it is at every university, however. I suspect the sentiment about SLU basketball among the students stems from the fact that if we're really honest with ourselves, the program has yet to experience genuinely memorable success. We have made exactly zero sweet 16s, a level of success most of us would mark as the bare minimum of a successful program. The Majerus era was exciting and memorable for folks that frequent this message board but not really for casual fans and students.

@JMM28 hit the nail on the head. SLU fancies itself an elite academic institution that is above surrendering any of its so-called academic integrity for athletic success. Every year SLU becomes less and less relevant to the average American. Since I graduated, I watched our US News ranking drop lower and lower. We can't even crack the top 100 anymore. It's incredibly frustrating as an alumnus knowing that my Saint Louis University diploma becomes less valuable every year. 

Playing the game, the way schools like Marquette, Xavier, and Creighton do would be far more profitable for the University and its students and alumni than continuing to pretend that SLU is some elite institution. When in reality, Saint Louis University is nothing more than a very expensive and average school that exists as a buffer between childhood and the real world for privileged children.

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On 4/18/2022 at 10:40 AM, billiken_roy said:

i dont think biondi took the reigns at Saint Louis University until the fall following the upchurch fiasco.

I am not sure  - it was Biondi who said that we were going to be a top 50 program when Grawer was coach.

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ok i went to google  per an article in the post dispatch in 1987 craig was a signed recruit that spring and never was admitted in the fall.   father biondi came to st louis September of 1987 per a st louis magazine article i found on google.   so Craig was already at houston by the time biondi came to st louis.  

 

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The point was I was not disputing biondi said he wanted us to be top 50.   I was disputing cheese man said biondi made the Upchurch decision 

School was already in session without Upchurch before biondi even came to town.   Thus Upchurch was not a biondi decision.  

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1 hour ago, billiken_roy said:

The point was I was not disputing biondi said he wanted us to be top 50.   I was disputing cheese man said biondi made the Upchurch decision 

School was already in session without Upchurch before biondi even came to town.   Thus Upchurch was not a biondi decision.  

So it was the farewell decision from Reinert…

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fitzgerald.  he was our leader when i (82) and my wife (86) graduated.   so i doubt there was anyone in between.

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2 minutes ago, billiken_roy said:

fitzgerald.  he was our leader when i (82) and my wife (86) graduated.   so i doubt there was anyone in between.

The Upchurch decision occurred in the Summer of 1987, during transition between Fr. Fitzgerald, whose tenure as SLU President ended in 1987, and Fr. Biondi.  Fr. Biondi was appointed SLU President in August 1987.  I do not believe he had involvement, or at least significant involvement, re Upchurch.  The decision would have been right before or about the time he was appointed, and he probably had not yet taken the reins.

The Academic Vice-President at the time was Fr. John Hubert (Hugh) Gray, S.J.

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