Create a free Diverse: Issues In Higher Education account to continue reading

NCAA Academic-Based Sanctions Pummel HBCUs

Eighteen Division I teams will miss the postseason, and another 18 in men’s basketball and nine other college sports will trade practice time for remedial classroom sessions under NCAA academic progress reports released Tuesday.

Poor Academic Progress Rate scores mean postseason bans in the 2013-14 academic year for teams from 10 schools: Alabama State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Florida A&M, Florida International, Grambling State, Mississippi Valley State, New Orleans, Norfolk State, Savannah State and Southern. That compares to 15 teams ineligible for the 2012-13 postseason.

Five teams received Level 3 APR penalties, which can include financial aid reductions and multi-year postseason bans: the men’s basketball teams at Grambling, Mississippi Valley, New Orleans and Louisiana-Monroe and Chicago State’s women’s volleyball team.

Most of the penalized schools have significantly more limited resources than top NCAA programs, including 11 historically Black colleges and universities. Four of those banned are men’s basketball squads from the 10-team Southwestern Athletic Conference.

The overall four-year APR score across Division I was 974, a one-point increase from last year. Scores are calculated by individual D-I teams based on eligibility and graduation and retention rates. A minimum four-year average score of 900, or 930 over the most recent two years, is required for postseason participation. The minimum required APR scores will increase to 930 over four years or 940 over two years, starting with the 2014-15 postseason. The cutoff is equivalent to a 50 percent graduation rate.

“If you can’t graduate half your student-athletes, you shouldn’t be worried about playing in championships or tournaments,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert. “There’s more important things for you to be focused on.”

Under the APR standards, the NCAA defines “limited resource” schools as those ranking in the bottom 15 percent in athletics spending. Those schools only have to earn a four-year APR of 910 for the 2014-15 postseason.

The squads losing postseason eligibility consist of six men’s basketball teams; three football teams; two squads each in baseball, women’s volleyball and men’s indoor and outdoor track; and the New Orleans women’s basketball team. Data for eight of the sanctioned teams remains under review, meaning the penalties could be reversed or lessened.

The ineligible men’s basketball teams include Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Mississippi Valley State for a second consecutive year. Grambling and Alabama State are the other SWAC men’s basketball teams that must also sit out the next postseason.

Overall, limited-resource schools, in general, and historically Black colleges and universities, in particular, are narrowing the APR gap with the other D-1 schools. The NCAA reported an 11-point gain among limited-resource schools and a 15-point gain among the HBCUs over the past two years.

A special NCAA fund provides supplemental financial assistance that allows low-performing schools to, among other options, hire more academic support workers or add space in computer labs. An NCAA pilot program provides six schools with an extra $300,000 annually over three years for such added efforts.

Critics call such programs a Band-Aid approach that does little to address the spending gaps among the rich and poor in college sports.

“If you go to a low-resource school, they’re just trying to survive,” said Richard Southall, an assistant professor of sport administration at North Carolina who directs its College Sports Research Institute. “If you have to do your taxes by yourself versus hiring two accountants and a tax lawyer, are you going to catch as many deductions?”

Emmert, who was joined on a conference call with reporters by NCAA committee chairman Walt Harrison, president of the University of Hartford, said the APR, now in its 10th year, has “changed the culture of intercollegiate athletics.” The NCAA noted that more than 11,500 athletes whose eligibility expired later returned to campus to finish their degrees in the previous decade, a move that rewards schools with extra APR points.

Connecticut’s men’s basketball team, which was barred from the 2013 postseason because of past problems with its Academic Progress Rate, the first BCS school so sanctioned, has qualified academically for next year’s NCAA tournament.

A New Track: Fostering Diversity and Equity in Athletics
American sport has always served as a platform for resistance and has been measured and critiqued by how it responds in critical moments of racial and social crises.
Read More
A New Track: Fostering Diversity and Equity in Athletics