The Washington Times - October 2, 2009, 06:50PM

Talked with Maryland forward Jerome Burney about an hour ago, and he confirmed his career —- and not just his redshirt junior season —- is over.

Back when he and I talked in July, it seemed likely this decision would eventually be made. And it turns out Burney has known for more than a month he would be seguing from basketball to a potential career down the road as a personal trainer a little early.


Burney said he’d spend this season as the team’s assistant strength and conditioning coach, helping out Paul Ricci in any way he could. Here’s the highlights of our discussion:

Q: I know in July you were pretty close to accepting how things had gone with your career. How do you feel about the decision?

JB: I feel a lot better about it because if I had to make the decision, I was ready. I feel more comfortable.

Q: What was the result of some of the exams you had planned after we talked in the summer?

JB: I talked to the doctor at Kaiser Permanente and he basically asked me some questions. He was looking at my X-rays after I had some bone tests. He said ‘Well, your bones are fine.’ If I had calcification [problems] from it, maybe I could drink more milk or something. Since I didn’t have that, it was because the bones aren’t structured properly to handle the way I play. Maybe if I played another way, I could play. I play above the rim, so my feet can’t handle it.

Q: So basically, your career is over?

JB: Yeah.

Q: Are you going to wind up helping out Paul Ricci in the weight room this season?

JB: I’m labeled as the assistant strength and conditioning coach. I’m also trying to get internship credit. I’ll try to see about that. I like doing that. I like instructing people with the proper way to lift, and it helps me stay in shape.

Q: Will you be on the bench, home and away, throughout this season?

JB: I haven’t talked about that yet. I’ll waiting until the season draws near. Right now, I’m the assistant strength and conditioning coach, and basically I give Paul a hand. Or I might see and just watch over parts of the team Paul says I can handle. Actually, he’s starting to split the teams in the program, so I’ll watch one group and he’ll watch another. Or sometimes I’m spotting them.

Q: So have you been out watching the team’s pickup games?

JB: I watched Monday, a little bit Monday. I got back on the court yesterday for the first time since February. I think that was Feb. 28. That was seven months. It was the first in seven months I actually played. Surprisingly, I wasn’t tired. I don’t like to run too much, but I wasn’t even that tired.

Q: Is this a decision you just came to, or did you have a strong idea already this was it?

JB: I knew that was it. I know I can still play the game, but I know with the constant practicing and games, my feet wouldn’t be able to handle the stress of a season. Me playing pickup two to three times a week, that’s OK because I’d not be doing much. But practicing one-to-three-hours, four, five, six days out of the week and then when we don’t practice add a game or two, and my body can’t handle it. If it’s just pickup, I know my body will have time to rest. If I feel like my feet are giving me problems, I could sit or play once or sit out the whole week. Whereas with basketball, I have to be there.

Q: When did you know for sure, and how supportive have people been since you told them?

JB: The first person I told was Paul, and then kind of like if I wanted to tell my business to you, I’d tell you. I really wasn’t telling people I wasn’t going to be back. A lot of fans said ‘Rome, I hope you’ll be back.’ But people closer to me, I told them I wasn’t coming back. It was —- I told [assistant coach] Rob [Ehsan] right when I came back [to College Park], around mid-August.

Q: Anything else on your mind?

JB: Let everybody know I’m still at Maryland. I’m not transferring as some bloggers are spreading rumors about. I’m still here supporting the team, the whole year in fact.

—- Patrick Stevens