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Georgia Tech Week: Good Times and Bad

It hasn't been the greatest series of days for the Yellow Jacket athletic department, but at least the Institute’s College of Engineering continues to thrive.

Recently disappointed supporters of ’s athletic program, which has absorbed a series of demoralizing blows in recent days, might hone in this week on the first two lines of the school’s fight song:

I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech, and a hell of an engineer—
A helluva, helluva, helluva, helluva, hell of an engineer.

Well, there’s no denying such as the school’s graduate programs continue to earn high marks from U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings.

The Institute’s College of Engineering ranked No. 4 for the eighth consecutive year and all eleven of the programs within the college are ranked in the top 10 including industrial engineering (No. 1), biomedical (No. 2), civil (No. 3), aerospace (No. 4), electrical (No. 5), nuclear (No. 5), environmental (No. 6), computer (No. 6), mechanical (No. 6), materials (No. 7) and chemical (No. 10).

“All of Georgia Tech’s graduate engineering programs are ranked in the top ten in the nation,’’ said Georgia Tech President G. P. “Bud” Peterson in a statement. “We’re proud that our College of Engineering is not only one of the best in the U.S., but also the largest, preparing nearly 3,000 graduates each year. We commend our outstanding faculty, staff and students who helped make this a reality.”

Over at the Tech athletic department, the news hasn’t been so rosy the last week beginning with the then 10th-ranked baseball team losing at Georgia State on Wednesday, March 7. That began a stretch that saw the Jackets drop three of four, including an ACC-opening series loss at North Carolina State.

The next evening on March 8, the Jackets’ men’s basketball team concluded a dismal 11-20 season with a dreadful 54-36 loss to Miami in the opening round of the conference tournament. That matched Tech’s lowest scoring output dating back more than 51 years. And Tech’s hoops woes weren’t done for the week.

But more on that in a bit as on the next day, Friday, March 9, the Georgia Tech football program was officially stripped of its only ACC football title in 2009 because effectively a player had received a tad more than $300 worth of merchandise (that the player reportedly never wore or used) from an individual the NCAA suspected was an agent.

The NCAA ruled that Tech was wrong to use a ineligible players in three late-season games in 2009. But more than anything, NCAA investigators believed Tech hindered the investigative process and prevented the full truth from coming out. School officials have continued to vehemently deny such, but the reality is that because of a small crime (which was never proved), the Jackets were stripped of their only outright conference football title since 1990 and just the second outright league crown in almost six decades.

And when the weekend concluded, the wheels were already in motion for what would lead to the dismissal of Tech's standout men’s hoops player and a graduate assistant as a result of an incident last week while leaving in Midtown.

Glen Rice Jr., Tech's leading scorer who had been suspended for the last seven games of the season, was dismissed from the team on Tuesday after being charged for his involvement in a shooting incident leaving Halo during the early morning hours of March 7.

Rice was charged last week with permitting unlawful operation during an incident involving gunfire erupting from a Cadillac Escalade that was leaving the Midtown club.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution report said Atlanta Police indicated that Rice was a passenger and London Warren, a Tech graduate assistant, was the driver. Warren, who was charged with DUI, was dismissed by Tech head coach Brian Gregory on Monday. The weapon was allegedly fired by a third person in the vehicle.  

Said Gregory in a prepared statement Tuesday on Rice's dismissal:

"It's an honor and a privilege to represent Georgia Tech and be a part of this basketball program. There are certain standards that have to be met both on and off the court, and there has to be accountability when those standards aren't met. I'm disappointed that we have to take this action."

According to the release, Rice will stay in school through the spring semester for academic reasons. 

Rice, a 6-foot-5 junior guard and the son of former Michigan and NBA player Glen Rice, appeared in 87 games and averaged 9.9 points in his abbreviated three-year career for the Yellow Jackets. This season he played in only 21 games and was averaging 13 points a game.

So Tech sports fans, what’s been worse, the sting of losing the 2009 ACC football title or the conclusion of the Glen Rice saga at Tech?

Do you feel the NCAA was fair to Tech’s football program?

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