Athletic department meets NCAA standard

The Florida A&M University athletic department announced Wednesday that it was on the road to improving its academic standing with the NCAA.

The athletic department released a report saying each of the school’s 18 sports is 100 percent compliant with NCAA requirements.

This came as good news to an athletic department that had to report more than 200 violations to the NCAA a little more than a year ago.

Among the list of violations were accusations of ineligible players being allowed to compete and improper conduct of coaches concerning a change of grade. But a significant rise in the school’s Academic Progress Rate this year has the athletic department excited about the program’s possibilities.

Director of Athletics Robert Townsend met the news with both surprise and pride.

“They say it isn’t news for a dog to bite man. But this is man biting the dog, so this is news.”

Last year 12 teams did not meat the APR requirements. We were considered to be at the bottom of the list. This is revolutionary for us,” Townsend said.

Townsend said APR ratings are based on retention, academic progress and eligibility.

The athletic department’s self-report was released Wednesday at the “Rattlers Strike Back” luncheon.

Members of the FAMU athletic staff gathered to commemorate the momentous accomplishment.

Much of the credit for the program’s reemergence was given to five academic advisers who are dedicated to ensuring that the school’s athletes were meeting academic standards. The team of advisers was put together in 2005 and has made a concentrated effort to get FAMU’s student athletes on the right track.

One of the five advisers, Dwanna James, said that coming up with a uniform plan to help the students was important.

“We had to listen to their needs,” James said.

The staff then made sure they were committed to making sure the student athletes maintained their grades.

“We did some intrusive advisement. We went into class to make sure they were there. We made them get progress reports,” James said.

Staff members said the students adapted well to the adjusted aid they were receiving.

“Our student athletes want to get their degrees. They just had to see that they had a staff and a department that wanted help,” said Assistant Athletic Director of Academic Affairs Dwayne Robinson.

“Once you give 100 percent, they give 100 percent too,” Robinson said. “We are really stepping it up. We plan to hire more staff and keep improving.”

Now that the athletic department has proven itself academically, they have hopes of regaining some of the scholarships from the NCAA that were lost because of previous violations.