Late last month, Avery Jacobs of the Famuan reported that the Florida A&M men’s basketball team was likely to be ineligible for postseason play due to not meeting the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR). Wednesday afternoon, FAMU Athletics confirmed the reports and added three more teams to the list.
They announced that the men’s basketball, men’s golf and men’s indoor and outdoor track teams were not eligible for postseason play in the year 2019.
“While we are disappointed that this year’s teams will bear the brunt of this action, (but) we are confident that the measures put in place to address the APR will put us on course to move forward in restoring the necessary standards of excellence in academics,” said FAMU director of athletics John Eason.
According to the NCAA website, APR is a four-year average team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete. The seasons attributing to this year’s scores for FAMU are 2013-2014, 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 – all seasons in which FAMU teams with APR penalties did not have their current head coaches.
All four teams have a Level Two penalty, meaning that along with postseason ban, teams will have a reduction in the amount of time they are allowed to practice.
These sanctions mark the second time within four years the men’s basketball program has been penalized for APR violations, as well as the second time for the golf program within four years and the third time in the last ten years for the indoor and outdoor track programs.
FAMU Athletics stated that they are generally informed in May of the year prior to the sanctions which teams are going to be penalized, but withheld from saying anything sooner or informing athletes due to it being against NCAA rules and wanting to double check all of the scores.
“Nothing is final until the NCAA deems their final ruling so we are not at liberty to discuss the final ruling or anything that’s going on in the process of being evaluated,” said associate director of intercollegiate athletics Vaughn Wilson.
“When we saw all the scores that were being calculated, obviously I had only been here a few months, so I wanted to go back and review to confirm the mathematics of all of that,” added associate athletic director for academics and compliance services Kendra Greene. “We had to make sure the mathematics (were) correct and that did take some time to work through the process.”
Athletics now has the challenge of fixing an issue that has plagued the university several times in recent memory, and trying to prevent a mass exodus of athletes who wish to leave their program due to postseason ineligibility.
“You’re always concerned about that (athletes asking to transfer),” said Eason. “That’s a possibility because it’s human nature. When those things happen, some athletes want to compete and they want to compete right away. So what do they do? They move on, so that’s what we have to deal with.”
The university has made several moves in order to make strides toward meeting the NCAA APR standards.
Most notably, they have: hired Kendra Greene to lead the athletics compliance department in 2018, hired an associate athletic director for compliance, an assistant athletic director for compliance and a compliance director, have moved oversight of athletics academics to FAMU’s provost, hired four academic advisors and added an academic learning center in the Gaither Athletic Center.
Since new APR scores roll in only one year at a time, it is unclear if the sanctions will persist into next year because of scores in the past being so bad.
“We will just have to continue to work with the NCAA, reevaluate obviously,” said Greene. “One bad year can always throw you in a flux. It’s just always working with our coaches and constantly educating the students.
“We still just working through the process with the NCAA. All institutions are at this time.”
Athletics also stated that the university’s sports programs have “already made significant gains in the classroom.”