Sunday, September 29, 2013

Why Wilson Left

As we told you on Sept. 21 in the comments section of this post, Robert Wilson has left the Gannon basketball program to pursue a career in criminal justice. As I wrote back then, "My understanding of the situation is that Wilson will not play for the Knights this season because he has enrolled in the police academy which will conflict with basketball activities. I believe the redshirt senior has already earned his degree during his 4 years of school (2 at Urbana, 2 at Gannon) and, according to a Gannon press release this summer, had a 3.60 cumulative grade point average as a criminal justice major. So good for him that he's moving on in his career field, but bad for us Gannon fans to lose such a contributor."

Shortly after posting that information, I received an email from Diana Woolf, Robert's mother. I asked her if I could share what she wrote to me, and she obliged. The following includes excerpts from her two emails to me. I think they're revealing about the "why" behind Wilson's move and how he and his family feel about the Gannon program.

I just wanted to give you the correct information about Robert before the rumors get started. Robert had fully intended on playing this season. Unfortunately the Chesterfield Police Department (VA) bumped their police academy up from June 2014 to Feb 2014. This is an opportunity for Robert to be on a great department with a ton of potential for career growth.

He is bummed about not being able to play but feels this is not an opportunity he can pass up. He has really enjoyed being with his teammates and his time at Gannon University. I personally can't thank Gannon enough for a great education. It was a difficult decision.

I don't want anyone to think Robert just left the team on bad terms or left his teammates hanging. Honestly when he took the police entrance exam it was supposed to be for practice. We then realized it was for the June 2014 academy and after researching the department we suggested to him that he follows the process thinking AWESOME, final year of basketball and then a job right after the school year. 

It was a dark cloud over all of us when they called and told him the academy was being bumped up to February. UGH!

Thank you for the kind comments. He loved the fans and playing at Gannon. He will finish out the semester at Gannon. Go Knights!

So, clearly this is not an angry student-athlete bolting a team and telling the coach "take your scholarship and shove it!" Wilson is leaving on what seems to be excellent terms, and Gannon fans should be thrilled that he used his basketball skills to obtain his degree so he could seek his dream job.

We'll talk more later about how Wilson's absence impacts Gannon's lineup, but for now we should celebrate the success of a student-athlete with a Gannon degree. Just like his mom said, "Go Knights!", I think we should all say, "Go Robert!" This is what college athletics should be all about.


  1. We should all be happy for Robert, talking to him during the previous years that he was at Gannon, he is a good kid and hopefully the police academy goes well for him. Great opportunity for him.

  2. Ditto and thanks Robert for all you gave and just your presence on the wood
    lifted the team and all us fans. I promise not to speed in Chesterfield Va.

  3. I happen to live in Chesterfield County, Va and can attest to the wonderful opportunity afforded to Robert. Besides the great career potential of the Richmond area, it's a great place to live! Tell Robert to leave his snow shovel in Erie, he will not need it down here.

  4. I can't think of why anyone would have ever though he left on bad terms. His grades were excellent, so clearly not an academic problem. He was a great player and you could tell he loved his teammates and they loved him. If he would've been leaving for reasons related to the team, I think that would have happened the year he redshirted haha

    Best wishes to Robert in his professional career and, even though it was short lived, many thanks to him for his extreme loyalty and emotion he put into every game. Now, many NO thanks to him for the 2 years he crushed us while playing at Urbana haha :)

  5. Congratulations and best of luck to Robert Wilson. Thanks!!

  6. This is a perfect example of just what a Gannon education should be. After all, this is division 2 basketball and Robert is not going to play in the NBA. Gannon gave him an excellent education and he gave us all he had on the basketball court. Congrats on a job well done Robert and congrats to Gannon for developing such a fine young man.
    Timing just sucks sometimes, doesn't it..

  7. Couple of women's BB notes --

    Not sure if anyone saw, but the Gannon Lady Knights are ranked #3 in the preseason polls. Now I know that preseason polls anywhere, let alone Division II are meaningless, but this is a nice show of respect of what we can be.

    Big news in the Atlantic Region -- The Bunky Harkleroad era at Glenville State is over ... he just accepted the position the head coaching position at Division I Cal State-Sacramento.

    Glenville State played in the Atlantic Regional last year. If you saw them, you didn't forget them. They had frenetic up-tempo offense and made 21 out of 51 three pointers to knock off Shaw 111-86. Return senior Ginny Mills is one of the best shooters every to play at the Hammermill. They also were the team that subbed in waves of players. Glenville looked to be a force this season ... we'll see how it goes without Bunky.

  8. The replacement for Bunky is his 2yr ass't. We might expect the same type of offense when GU ladies travel down to WV for their 2nd game.
    Glenville also brought in 3 Division I transfers - a pair of starters from last year's Delaware State team (second-leading scorer and the second-leading rebounder) along with a post from the University of Hawaii.

  9. GU Lady Knights to play November 1st at Gampel Pavilion vs the Division I National Champion UCONN Lady Huskies!!!! Wow!!!

  10. Still don't understand this scheduling. Even though it's just an exhibition game, what on earth does Gannon have to gain by playing UConn? It is a complete physical mismatch.

  11. If I understand the concept correctly, Gannon is probably being paid to play in this game, probably quite handsomely. Need to finance those glorious road trips to places like Hawaii somehow. That's the reason that all these DII teams schedule exhibition games vs DI powers. It's about the money.

  12. 1) yes the "small" schools do get paid VERY NICELY for going there. Last year I dont remember which D2 school it was (or the D1 school for that matter), but the D2 mens school got "triple digits" (as the article stated) for playing against D1 (and they lost by like 100).
    2) What does Gannon have to gain? Umm... really? You're playing the defending Division1 National Champs. Not only that, they are a powerhouse dynasty. You're playing against a team that has one of hte greatest all-time coaches in the history of the game. They get to go and put their talent up against the best of the best! If they lose by 100, so what? They're not expected to be "in" the game. If they lose a close one or, by some miracle, beat them... that puts Gannon ON THE MAP more so than they already are. reference App State beating Michigan in football. That was the story of the year! (and Michigan ended up not even being that great that year). If nothing else, they get the experience and the spotlight. Nothing better to get them ready for their season than this!
    3) The real question to ask is, what does UCONN have to gain? Even though Gannon's ranked 3rd nationally, it's Division 2 and means NOTHING to UCONN. It's great for both schools though. If anything, UCONN is risking a lot (for the miracle referenced above)

    (and this is throughout all sports... I was watching a boxing match the other night, two no names unless you're hardcore into following boxing, but the one was a heavy favorite. He won. The losing boxer still made $8mil just for boxing.)

  13. I kind of look at it as "the harder the practice, the easier the game.
    Game 2 & 3 (Cal) are no pushovers. So, why not?
    Play the best to get the experience before the season starts helps both teams.
    Sure UConn is expected to win and they don't want a patsy but want to be tested so they can try various player combos. GU gets to see their gals under pressure.
    Its a win win for both teams.

  14. Playing a team like UConn can only help the women's program. I don't understand why the men's team doesn't do the same. IUP scrimmaged Pitt last year and Slippery Rock will play Pitt this year. In addition to the monetary reward, a team can get a good feel for how it's progressing before their actual season starts.

  15. I see all your points, but I'm still torn. I think that the IDEA of playing UConn at Storrs is cool, but I still don't think that much is to be gained from a basketball standpoint.

    On the men's side, we've seen some D-II schools hang with and sometimes beat D-I schools. But the depth in talent in men's basketball is way different from that of women's basketball. Look at the 1/16 games in the NCAA tournament. There have been many 16-seeds that hang with 1-seeds for a while. But the women's 1/16 games are mostly 40-60 point blowouts.

    When Mercyhurst Prep beats a school like Bradford 84-16, how much did Bradford gain from the experience? Mercyhurst? I'm all for playing good teams, but there comes a point where the difference between the teams is so great that nobody gains anything. I wish that we could play a MAC team or something like that where the difference in talent is a little more manageable.

    Hey, I hope I'm wrong on this. I've been going to GU women's games since the 1980's when the attendance was generously listed at 50. I'm so excited for the possibilities that this season brings -- I wish it started tomorrow. I hope that the team gains a lot from this trip and the game and it's a springboard to great things. But thinking practically, I'm having trouble seeing how this game is going to benefit anyone.

  16. If there was no benifit to playing Uconn or another D1 school, why in the world would Cleve W pulled a bone head and sched them? GU ladies beat D1 Buffalo & Kent St last yr. I guess the coaches just want to show they can coach in D1. Yeah, right! Heard the payday isn't that much. Just covers expenses and a few more for the Hawaii trip.

  17. even if you lose by 100 points, you gain a world of experience. HS can't be compared to this. HS players arent on scholarships and aren't highly recruited and "paid to play" as it's now being said (well most HS's are like that). But for Gannon, the score doesn't matter, it's the experience they'll get. Our "big guns" will be up against girls hitting probably 6'3 and 6'4 (maybe more). They aren't going to see that too often in PSAC or D2 in general, but it's going to help them. Coach will help them adjust throughout the game, not necessarily on how to "stop" them, but at least to alter their decisions or make them have to pass it off more often, etc. If I am Gannon's team, I am totally pumped for this. If you come out on the losing side of it 148-54, you scored about 20 points more than most teams score against UCONN and you played against the BEST in the nation. This is a coach's dream! You don't go in with the expectations of upsetting the #1 D1 team. You obviously don't go in expecting to lose or get blown out, but you set realistic goals. Limit player A to under X points, force player B to turn the ball over more than Y times, hold the starters under Z points. If you find you're in the game and an upset is a possibility, then you go with it.

  18. I just received this email from a Gannon fan:

    In the current discussion concerning the UConn game, no one has brought up that it is a nice homecoming for Kelley Sundberg.

  19. Just received another email on this topic from a longtime Gannon fan:

    I don't twitter or blog, but in reading your website I believe two things which your writers are missing. This is a great PR move for the women's basketball program in recruiting where it might help spreading out the word about the program to potential recruits and it is a good PR move for the school just to get their name out there. The game may be on tv or in newspapers where in the past many people may not have heard much about Gannon U and its student athletes. If mention is made on tv about what good student athletes the women's team has as well as their overall GPA we believe that alone in itself was worth the trip. You never know quite possibly a recruit who is the gray area of a Div I and Div II sees the type of basketball Gannon women's program has along with hearing about how good academically the school is as well as how high the women's team members were nationally in the GPA the recruit could have herself or high school coach contact Gannon. It is a win win situation which benefits Gannon U and the women's basketball for years to come. Fans of U Conn in seeing how the women's basketball program respresents Gannon U and the Erie Community while they are there will be greatly impressed.

  20. GU Fans if you go to the Connecticut girl's web page than go to the schedule section you will see there is going to be a web cast of the game.

    1. Let's see.....doesn't count against their record, chance for some great publicity, playing the nation's top team, and doesn't count against their record. I cannot see a downside, even if UCONN smokes them. If you think a blowout in an exhibition game will have a dramatic effect on the psyche of this team, then you haven't been following too closely. This group is tough: mentally and physically. This isn't an uh-oh game, but rather, an opportunity to play a truly great team. Will they win? Most certainly not. Will they lose by a bunch. Pretty good chance. Is it risky? Not even remotely. Good Luck, Lady Knights.