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APR Woes Highlight Resource Issues For Division I HBCUs

The NCAA’s latest Academic Progress Reports (APR) were released on Wednesday and HBCUs saw mixed results. While HBCUs made progress overall, 15 of the 18 teams that were ruled ineligible for postseason play by the NCAA were from HBCU programs.

Teams from the SWAC receiving postseason sanctions included: Alabama State (men’s basketball, football, volleyball), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (men’s basketball), Grambling State (men’s basketball), Mississippi Valley State (men’s basketball), and Southern University (men’s outdoor track) as well as the MEAC’s Florida A&M (volleyball), Norfolk State (men’s track) and Savannah State (football).

The overall four-year APR score across Division 1 is 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 men’s basketball teams at Grambling State and Mississippi Valley State were hit with severe Level Three sanctions, which can include financial aid reductions and multi-year bans. 

Both Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Mississippi Valley State will be forced to sit out the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament for the second year in a row. The will be joined on the sideline by Grambling and Alabama State.

The programs affected by this report are some of the HBCUs with the best and brightest athletic traditions.

I spoke with Norfolk State athletic director Marty Miller a few months ago about the special circumstances HBCUs face on the APR issue.

“We have to come up with creative ways to try and seek funding for athletic support,” he says. “It has taken the entire effort by the university. It takes money, and it takes effort.”

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsThe answer to improving the performance of HBCUs on and off the court seems simple: recruit players who can compete on the court and in the classroom. But given the limited resources and historic mission of giving opportunities to those traditionally shut out of higher education, it’s not that simple.

HBCUs are nearing a crossroads. Will HBCUs continue to take on athletes with talent but some-times questionable academic backgrounds and hope for the best, knowing that they are handicapped in terms of providing resources? Or will they reject those projects for more finished products to avoid such troubles, realizing that their on-court performance may suffer? Only time will tell.

“In a previously published version of this story, information incorrectly listed the men’s basketball programs at Norfolk State University and Southern University as ineligible for postseason competition due to NCAA Academic Progress Rate sanctions. This information has been corrected to list the men’s indoor and outdoor track and field programs at both schools as the ineligible teams. HBCU Gameday regrets and apologizes for the error.”

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