Thursday, August 11, 2011

After 14 years, Eric Chenowith earns KU degree

Former KU player Eric Chenowith

Former KU player Eric Chenowith


Southern California native Eric Chenowith is expecting an important document to arrive in the mail any day now.

That’d be his 2011 Kansas University diploma.

“It was at will-call at Strong Hall, but I didn’t want to make a flight to Lawrence to pick it up,” joked Chenowith, who is beginning his third year as assistant boys basketball coach at Villa Park High School.

“The records department is mailing it out to me.”

The 32-year-old former KU center is eager to rip open the envelope and inspect a piece of paper that took 14 years to obtain.

“This makes me feel good. It gives order to my life,” said Chenowith, who left KU in the spring of 2001 needing 19 hours to fulfill requirements for a communication-studies degree.

“I always had in my mind that I’d go back to school to get it. I thought it was kind of inconsiderate of myself not to finish. I’m glad I did because everybody called me an alumni, but I wasn’t an alumni. Now I’m a true alumni.”

He passed 10 hours last winter at Orange Coast College and nine hours the ensuing spring via correspondence work at KU to ensure himself his diploma.

“I always felt like a Jayhawk, but now I feel more like a Jayhawk,” said Chenowith, now equipped to fulfill his dream of becoming a college coach.

“I already started networking, but I never had my degree. Now that I have it, I can do anything I want to do, and that’s college coaching,” added Chenowith, whose professional-hoops career took him to France, China and Puerto Rico as well as the NBDL and two other minor leagues in the U.S.

He credits KU associate athletic director/academic and career counseling Scott Ward, Orange Coast College professor Kat Carroll and former KU assistant Joe Holladay for helping him earn his degree.

“The hardest part was to figure out what I needed. Scott Ward mapped it out. I followed his plan. I couldn’t have done it without him,” Chenowith said.

Ward said he was proud of Chenowith’s efforts.

“Eric was amazingly mature about what needed to be done, and he did it,” Ward said. “It’s very difficult to accomplish finishing a degree after you’ve been away for a while. He was very engaged with the faculty at KU and the administration and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and those advisers. He knew exactly what he wanted to do and set some goals and timelines to get it done.

“He could have transferred his KU hours somewhere else. He was adamant his degree was going to come from the University of Kansas.”

Chenowith — who is ranked fourth in blocked shots, fifth in rebounds and 28th in scoring in KU hoops history — said this accomplishment ranks second in his life.

“Being a Jayhawk and wearing that uniform ... nothing will ever top that,” Chenowith said. “This definitely feels good. It took me 14 years, but I got it. A lot of guys go to college 14 years. They are called doctors.”

Who knows? Armed with his bachelor’s degree, Chenowith someday might elect to pursue an advanced degree while working as an assistant coach at some yet-to-be-determined university.

“My dream job is anywhere I can believe in the university and the program. I want to go somewhere I’ll feel passion, whether in Kansas or Florida or Michigan or wherever,” Chenowith said, noting he’ll always have a soft spot for California where he lives in a house in Corona del Mar off Newport Beach.

“I think I would be a good big-man coach. I went to Pete Newell’s big-man camp three times. I’ve studied the game. Any time I’ve been around other big guys, I’ve sought them out and gotten knowledge from them and tried to learn as much as I could. I think I’ll continue to learn. I’ll always want to learn more about this game.”


hawk316 10 years, 5 months ago

Amen! Great accomplishment, Eric. Way to persevere.

s6u6r6f 10 years, 5 months ago

Congratulations. Good job well done. Rock chalk.

chezlog 10 years, 5 months ago

Great pic! Eric never did better than his freshman year but he's a Jayhawk and you can't ever do better than that!!

waywardJay 10 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Ryan Wood 10 years, 5 months ago

I was at KU when Chenowith was there. The student body was brutal to him. It was so unfair.

People who aren't 7-foot just assume that people who are 7-foot should automatically be as good as Shaq. And when they're not, they're ridiculed.

And 14 years later, sad people like wayward still have cheap shots left to give, and are eager to give them.

waywardJay 10 years, 5 months ago

Clearly you lack the understanding of simple words.... No Malice intended......

waywardJay 10 years, 5 months ago

As a whole I appreciate every player that steps onto the floor at Allen Fieldhouse, but I am also keenly aware pf players strengths and weaknesses.....

It's funny no one ever pushed Richard Scott around on the post, and he was under 7 foot. Will this comment get deleted for me suggesting he could not shoot a free throw?

Bad Form Kusports, You let someone suggest they got a disease from another poster's wife on another link but you delete an accurate comment here?

Cmill1221 10 years, 5 months ago

They were brutal to him for a reason. No being 7 feet tall doesn't mean you are shaq. BUT being 7 feet tall and playing at KU you should be working hard to become as good as shaq. And he never did. He spent one whole summer on tour w/ Dave mathews band. Cool brah! If he would have stayed and worked out in the summers (AND ATTENDED CLASSES) he probably would have graduated in less than 14 years and been an all American. That's why the student body was hard on him. None the less it's good to see him finish what he started and go back and finish like so many say they will but don't. Congrats on that!!!

waywardJay 10 years, 5 months ago

While you guys are deleting comments, Why don't you get a filter on those fan blogs instead of writing parking tickets.....

waywardJay 10 years, 5 months ago

Nothing wrong with the commentary and I stick by that. What I said Shouldn't have been deleted.

bradh 10 years, 5 months ago

Nice Eric. It's hard to go back after you leave school. I'm impressed you made the effort when you probably didn't have to do so.

Lindsey Buscher 10 years, 5 months ago

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Robert Brock 10 years, 5 months ago

Majored in communications and minored in Dave Matthews. Keep up the good work, Cheno!

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 5 months ago

I'm surprised that a high school would hire a person to be a coach who does not have an undergraduate degree. Most of the time, coaches also teach some sort of class, I always understood.

Eric's standings in bocks and rebounds are truly surprising to me. Funny how we lose sight of the body of work and dwell on perceptions and our personal judgments. True, those standings will slip away in time. But, there have been some pretty fair post guys before him for many years as well as some great ones since he left.

4th in blocks! 5th in rebounds! No wonder he always felt like a Jayhawk!

kranny 10 years, 5 months ago

Many high schools and middle schools hire "Rule 10" coaches who are coaches that are not employed as teachers and may or may not have college degrees. It's fairly common these days.

Ron Prichard 10 years, 5 months ago

I think your comment about high school coaches is generally true for the head coaches. Schools hire assistant coaches that are not teachers pretty frequently.

I was thinking the same thing about the numbers for blocks and rebounds, but the truly amazing stat to me was that he was 28th on the scoring list. I don't ever remember him scoring that much, and even at 28th he is in some seriously elite company.

jaybate 10 years, 5 months ago

Mr. Chenowith,

Congratulations on your huge accomplishment of graduating from KU. I am extremely proud to call you my fellow alumnus.

I want you to know that I already considered you a Jayhawk, because of your contributions to the team.

But your getting a degree, not only heightens your self-respect, but has also done a great service to our basketball program.

Each time a KU basketball player commits himself to educational accomplishment, it sends a clear, honest message to tens of thousands of youth that education matters and that education empowers and that education is crucial to advancing one's self.

You have helped yourself, Mr. Chenowith, no doubt.

But you have almost certainly convinced at least a few more kids that they can and should emulate you.

My compliments and thanks are given to you humbly and with respect.

Rock Chalk!

jaybate 10 years, 5 months ago

P.S.: The difficulties of your basketball career, the twists and turns for better and for worse, the broad range of experience that you gained in USA and abroad, these are all the raw materials of a potentially good, effective and insightful coach.

You are right to think you could become a good big man coach. You could. And if you apply yourself at coaching the way you have at basketball and getting your education, you will find a career path.

hawksince51 10 years, 5 months ago

Great to see Cheno striving to improve himself and his career prospects. After realizing he was not going to have a career as a player, he has taken steps to pursue coaching. I wish him nothing but the best in this regard. He came to KU as a skinny kid with pretty good moves and touch around the basket his freshman year. After bulking up by his sophomore year, he never seemed the same in those areas but the bulk did greatly improve his D and rebounding. Thus, his high career rank in blocks and rebounds. Was the trade-off worth it? Maybe not in Eric's case. In the days before weight training and nutrition programs he would probably have been a much better player on O and more than adequate on D. But I suppose today's game requires bulk inside so I can only conclude he should have been born 30 years earlier.

Fruity22 10 years, 5 months ago

The hawks were very average from 99 to 01. I've always called them the Chenowith years.

hawksince51 10 years, 5 months ago

It wasn't just Chenowith. Kenny Gregory never lived up to the McD AA credentials and we suffered a gap in talent from Roy's only consistent recruiting area, Iowa.

Fruity22 10 years, 5 months ago

Agreed, I thought about mentioning how he disappointed too.

vd 10 years, 5 months ago

I know a great HS coach is going back to get a Masters so he can coach college ball. Playing at KU gives you a leg up on someone who had average playing skills, but is a great coach. It's amazing how KU fans dump on Eric, even tho he was a great player. Stats don't lie. BTW Wayward, it's easier for a short person to push a tall person around in the post. If you ever played, FB or BB, you would know this.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 5 months ago

I'm going to stay away from this thread today!

bsquared 10 years, 5 months ago

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Tony Bandle 10 years, 5 months ago

OOPs...too late, declaring to stay away, you're already in!! :)

I always felt that part of the animosity towards Eric was the perception of unfulfilled potential by KU Nation regarding Eric's career.

Whether it was self-inflicted [Dave Matthews groupie] or physical [what we saw as a frosh was the best he would ever be while others would grow], it seemed like the frustration of our own personal goals not being reached was sometimes transferred to him.

Any time someone finishes a college career with a degree, no matter how long it took, is laudible in my book, so I choose to comgratulate you Eric and, degree or not, you will always be a fellow Jayhawk.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 5 months ago

Nice observation oakville! For me, it had nothing to do with his production on the court. I thoroughly enjoyed guys like Pekka Markanan (SP?-LOL), Eric Pauley, and Ostertag. All of which didn't put up great stats, but they were great teammates and decent players.

I never felt Chenowith was a great teammate, especially off the court, or in his interviews. I'll leave it at that.

Larry Smith 10 years, 5 months ago

Oakville, There is a lot of merit to what you said. However, I always thought that his Sophmore year was his best. He lead the team in ppg, blocks and rebounds. He has always gotten a bad rap.

"Chenowith — who is ranked fourth in blocked shots, fifth in rebounds and 28th in scoring in KU hoops history"

As impressiva as this statement is, I believe he was #2, #3 and top 25 at the time of his departure. That is no small feat. Because Roy decided to shift the scoring responsibilities to Gooden, Gregory, Collison and Hinrich, Chenowiths scoring stats faltered some his last 2 years.

The DMB misconception is what drive me nuts. The kid goes to a DMB show in KC, and then to a few in California when he was home during the summer, and people start the "all he did was follow DMB all summer" crap. So what if he went to a few concerts during his off time? He should be able to enjoy himself some. Just like the current Jayhawks are mostly all at home, or vacation right now. I hope they too take some time to themselves and go do whatever the hell they want to. Just enjoy it.

Jared Grillot 10 years, 5 months ago

Gonna have to agree here... I was around when he got rolling, and I'll admit to thinking he shoulda stayed in bed... but there are the numbers. You're talking about being up there on the block list with Ostertag and now Aldrich. The numbers just don't lie. I have to withdraw some of the various negative comments I made about him back in the day.

rick cowley 10 years, 5 months ago

Congrats, It is tough get a degree a decade later as I know from experience.

Cheno was a very good player but we fans expected great.

Good luck in you coaching pursuits.

AverageCitizen 10 years, 5 months ago

Congrats on getting a degree after so many years away. This is definitely hard to do after entering the 'real' world. Very nice that Eric wanted a KU degree. Good luck in the future.

truefan 10 years, 5 months ago

Congrats, Eric. Once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 5 months ago

You all know that I really find everyone's opinions very interesting.

Let's chuck the Crimson and Blue eye shades for a moment and please give me your honest, from the gut prediction for the win/loss record this upcoming season.

Painful as it feels, I'll start the bidding at 25-12...sorry, I see a lot of bumps on the road.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 5 months ago

As long as I don't have to talk about Chenowith anymore that is a good thing. I won't predict postseason, but we'll go with a regular season record of 22-9 or 23-8.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 5 months ago post season added 4-2 to your reg. season so our totals are pretty similar.

Jabez Harlan 10 years, 5 months ago

I have already posted a season record of 25-6. This KU team is going to be really good! Wait and see!

Martin Shupert 10 years, 5 months ago

The guy was always so motivated on the court. I am surprised it took so long for him to get the sheepskin. Actually, maybe he's grown up a little and this is a good sign. He was known as a party animal back then. Maybe times have changed for the better... and he is a Jayhawk... much more so now than ever before.

jaybate 10 years, 5 months ago

Head says .500 once the usual injuries set in.

Heart says 9-10 losses with freedom from injuries.

Six to seven losses if Withey can play 25 effective minutes a game.

If Withey is limited to Self will deserve COY, if they lose less than 10, maybe COC (coach of the century).

But the man is the Magician of Mask, the King of Conceal, the Wizard of Weakness Hiding. If no injuries costing a month of the season to TT, EJ, Travis, and TRob, he will find a way to lose less than 10.

If an injury occurs to any one of those guys for a month or more (which seems par in the XTReme Era), we may be looking at .500.

Still, I believe this team is going to surprise us, because I believe these guys have the right stuff and three aces (TT, EJ and TRob), and three aces and the right stuff count for so much in Self Ball.

No one believes it right now, but Tyshawn and EJ have the talent to become the best guard tandem we've had in Self's tenure--yes, even better than Chalmers and RR, or Chalmers and Collins.

These two fellas are just so long and fast. I don't ever recall two guys this fast in tandem. And they are capable of becoming as good of defenders as Mario and Russell, and if TT comes along as I suspect he will in trifectation (with a healed hand), they will average out slightly better outside threats than the average of Chalmers and RR.

TRob is going to be a load, but unless someone steps up at the other big, which seems a huge question mark, he is just going to be doubled and tripled every stinking game.

As I have kept saying, Self only needs ten minutes each half from Withey. With Justin, Jamari and Braeden he can tape and bailing wire something together. But he has to at least get ten a half from Withey. If Withey washes out and can't give a solid ten each half, the lights could go out.

And yet, and yet, I still say the makings are here for an exceptional team with some luck on injuries, and if Withey happens to play up to what appears his potential.

Its obvious what this team is missing.

Its missing the center it was expected to have: Kieff Morris.

Add Kieff and this is a Top Ten team even with the inexperienced, sub four star back-ups.

Add Selby and this is a Final Four Team.

But sans Kieff and Selby, and Withey has to start out a bonafide D1 center, rather than mature into one over the season (or maybe not) to avoid double digit losses, and Ben Mac has to come in for Travis, or TT, and launch and make a lot of treys to keep make the enemy pay for doubling and tripling Thomas.

And as I have mentioned previously, TRob has to hit 65% of his FTAs for Self to work any real magic over the season.

jaybate 10 years, 5 months ago

Awe, screw my head and my heart!

They are going to lose 8 games. :-)

Ed Brown 10 years, 5 months ago

Might have even been a bit quicker than Archie Marshall. It was too bad he never progressed from the great freshman year. I think it was when he broke his fellow Jayhawk's finger blocking a jam that took away his aggressiveness. I believe it was Raef but my memory is fuzzy and I am too hot and lazy to research. Congrats nonetheless! My father ws 46 when he got his Pharmacy degree from KU although he was a Pharmacist for 23 years in the Air Force. Never to late to finish accomplishing life's goals!

lee3022 10 years, 5 months ago

I also offer congratulations to Eric. It is a feeling of relief to gain something no one can take away.

As for you, Gary, I take issue with this comment:

“Eric was amazingly mature about what needed to be done, and he did it,” Ward said.

There is nothing amazing about a 31 year old man wanting to complete his degree. If he is not mature by age 31 when will he be mature? Eric has always conducted himself maturely.

Make_Ur_Free_Throws 10 years, 5 months ago

I respect a guy who finishes what he started! 14 years ago was not that long ago!(-:

Way to go Eric!

REHawk 10 years, 5 months ago

24-7 regular season. No lower than second place Big 12; more likely, a share of the title. I, too, feel that Withey is key to a superseason. A strong 10 minutes per half sounds reasonable for him to help propel this team to glory. Kevin Young and BenMac are going to unearth a huge following before March. TRob, TT, EJ and Travis will become as solid as any other 4 players in the nation if they stay healthy and focused.

REHawk 10 years, 5 months ago

How in the heck did we post so many wins last season, what with the disruptions a la TT and Selby? I suppose, playing with 2 lottery picks and several much improved bench players.... In some ways, it would seem that we are set to open this campaign with calmer, steadier players whom we already know can rise to the occasion. More mature? That 5th slot is the big question mark. Withey and the new faces have gotta get 'er done! And, of course, the Wizard of the Phog must polish his magic wand.

mikehawk 10 years, 5 months ago

Congratulations, Eric. If you don't have your degree AND can't say something nice about a story like this, you should skip this blog rather than use it as the equivalent of a drive by shooting. I hope the fans give Withey a chance to develop this year and the following without the usual "turn on the footer" mentality. As an old guy, I can say it. These are just kids. As for go back and get your degree at age 32 from KU so you can legitimately call yourself a Jayhawk takes a man. Welcome to the KU alumni, Eric.

ku_foaf 10 years, 5 months ago

Congratulations, Eric. This really just makes me feel old to realize he played 14 years ago.

I don't think any player was ever treated worse by the student body, and undeservedly so. He was a very good player, and the expectations became that he would be a national star, which did not happen. That was about the time KU fans truly started to become spoiled.

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