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Originally published Friday, May 6, 2011 at 3:06 PM

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Team Tony Wroten's misguided hoop dreams

Garfield High School student Tony Wroten and his followers do him no favors by helping the star point guard blow off a high-school education.

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GARFIELD High student Tony Wroten and his followers do him no favors by helping the basketball star blow off a high-school education.

The University of Washington's top recruit received passing grades for a Spanish class that never existed. Wroten got an able assist from Garfield's athletic director, Jim Valiere, who gave the basketball player and another athlete C grades despite an absence of course work or a textbook.

Seattle Public Schools fired Valiere after discovering the ruse. Good.

Afterwards, Wroten was placed in a three-student remedial Spanish class to earn two years of foreign-language credits needed to get into the University of Washington.

But Garfield's principal, Ted Howard, must justify creating the tiny, district-approved class for the athlete, including hiring a substitute teacher, despite other priorities for the overcrowded school. Howard says he felt the school owed Wroten and the other athletes an education.

The students got an education all right. They learned how willing the adults in their lives are to subvert rules and ethical behavior in pursuit of stardom in professional sports.

Some background: Wroten was once kicked out of Garfield High School after a district investigation proved he violated school residency rules. Ironically, the Wrotens hired a lawyer, complaining their son was being deprived of an education. But now the Wrotens help prioritize education below basketball.

College basketball is big business financially, from sports merchandising fees to network contracts for games. But amid the prospects of payday, the importance of an education should not be lost.

The people surrounding Wroten are sending him the wrong message. By favoring athletics over academics, they are showing him that he is a commodity and not a person who can benefit by knowledge and intellectual discoveries.

That's sad.

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