PRINCETON, N.J. -- Princeton's men's basketball team suffered a major loss when starting forward Mason Rocca graduated in May. But that was fully expected. Yesterday, the Tigers were forced to endure a bigger and somewhat-unexpected setback -- the loss of their junior All-Ivy center. Chris Young, an All-Ivy selection in baseball and basketball in both of his years at Princeton, announced yesterday that he had signed a minor league contract with baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates. Under Ivy League regulations, when the 6'11" righty signed his contract with the Pirates he became ineligible to compete in either sport for the Tigers. Young, the only male in Ivy history to be named Rookie of the Year in two sports, was drafted last June by the Pirates in the third round. Terms of the contract were not disclosed yesterday, but Young received a signing bonus on par with the one offered to Pirates first-round draft pick Sean Burnett, who received $1.65 million. In addition, Pittsburgh will pay for the final two years of Young's Princeton education. "This has been a long, drawn-out process," Young said. "I've had a lot of time to think, and the offer is too good to risk. I could potentially lose the spot I'm in right now, and possibly drop 10 slots if I were to hold out for the future." The decision would appear to remove a major roadblock in Penn's quest for three consecutive Ivy basketball crowns. After all, Young was the best player on the team that was expected to pose the biggest threat to the Quakers. But Penn men's basketball coach Fran Dunphy was more concerned with the Ivy League rule rendering Young ineligible in basketball. "The issue is not whether it will make the competition easier on us," Dunphy said. "The issue is that we're not doing what is best for the student-athlete, and I'm disappointed by that." The Ivy League is the only conference in the country that prohibits students who have signed a professional contract in one sport from competing intercollegiately in another. So Young -- who with 801 career points was on pace to finish his career second all-time in scoring at Princeton -- will end his career only 41st on the Tigers' all-time points list. "This truly has been a difficult decision," Young said. "There is a part of me that wishes I could continue to play collegiate basketball, and I'm sure that I'll feel that way for a while." This is not the first time this rule has affected Ivy League athletics -- and is, in fact, the second time in two years the Pirates have been involved. Penn lost a top recruit in baseball and football a year ago when then-incoming-freshman Jon Searles was drafted by and signed with Pittsburgh. But Searles was not an established star or a unanimous first team All-Ivy selection. Princeton must now go about the difficult chore of replacing Young. Senior Nate Walton and sophomore Chris Krug are probably the leading candidates to start at center -- but neither is expected to put up 12.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game like Young did last year. Despite his success on the court, though, Young's favorite sport has always been baseball. The towering right-hander had a career 9-1 record and a 2.05 ERA. He was ranked No. 1 nationally with a 1.05 ERA at the end of the regular season last year. "I've always had a passion for baseball," Young said. "As a pitcher, I'm truly in control of every play. I am the type of athlete that wants the ball in their hands and to have an impact.Comments powered by Disqus
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