Golden Lion hoops banned from postseason again — for now

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff men’s basketball team is facing another postseason ban for a low Academic Progress Rate.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association on Tuesday released APRs for each Division I athletic program, and the men’s basketball team has been given a one-year postseason ban for a low score for the second consecutive year. UAPB also has been penalized with a reduction in practice time for the second year in a row, and the team also faces “in-season and out-of-season restrictions,” which mainly can include reduced recruiting efforts.

The matter, however, is under review, and the institution’s penalty waiver request is pending, the NCAA indicated.

UAPB scored a four-year rate of 881, which is four points lower than last year’s score and 19 points below the minimum needed to avoid sanctions.

It marks the continuation of an issue that has plagued coach George Ivory’s program for at least two years. The team was placed on public notice in 2011 for scoring 899, just one point below the minimum, and received the ban last year after its 885 rate was released.

“It’s crazy, what’s going on,” Ivory said. “They told us it’s going to be under review.”

Ivory blames the low scores on an incorrect roster used to determine APR scores, adding that coursework from a Dominic Moore from another school was incorrectly factored into the score. There was a Dominic Moore who played at UAPB during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.

UAPB has been sending corrected paperwork to the NCAA since 2011 in hopes of raising its APR. The school’s athletic director, Lonza Hardy Jr., said in March the score would not be higher than the 900 needed to overturn the ban served this past season even with the corrected information.

“All of this is going back to data dating back to 2007,” UAPB athletic director Lonza Hardy Jr. said Tuesday. “Corrections are still being made as late as last week. That’s all part of the waiver pending. This is an ongoing process, and we hope once this is all done, our numbers will be to a point to where we can overturn the ban.”

Ivory said Tuesday the ban remained in place because the NCAA indicated “someone from our campus” signed a document to waive rights to an appeal.

“Chancellor (Calvin) Johnson said he didn’t sign it. I didn’t sign it. Who did?” Ivory said.

Said Hardy: “I’m not aware of anybody at the university giving up the right to file an appeal.”

A person in the UAPB athletic department’s compliance office who declined to be identified said compliance director Nancy Lake was out of the office until next week. The person declined to provide further details in the APR matter, saying only that the university “is in the process of working on it.”

Attempts to reach a representative from the NCAA who works closely with APR matters were unsuccessful.

Postseason bans in basketball cover conference and national tournaments. UAPB missed the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament in March despite the fact that the Golden Lions finished 16-14 overall and 15-3 in the conference, good for third place. It was their first overall winning season in three years.

Ivory, who said he first learned about the ban last week “through the grapevine” is baffled that the Golden Lions’ APR issues haven’t been resolved after such a long period of time.

“Why would we have to be on an appeal or a ban if you haven’t had the information corrected?” he asked. “They would redo those years to get more data, and we’re still in the process of doing that. Amazing.”

Hardy said he thinks a reason for the delay in correcting information is that UAPB isn’t the only men’s basketball team facing a postseason ban. Five others, including three more from the SWAC — Alabama State, Grambling State and Mississippi Valley State — were similarly sanctioned, but Alabama State’s and Valley’s data are under review.

“ A lot of schools are in the same boat,” Hardy said. “It’s not an overnight fix, but I think we have the right people in place to get the matter resolved.

“… We don’t know if the NCAA has a definitive timeline. As far as we’re concerned, we would like for the matter to be resolved sooner than later.”

In APRs, according to the NCAA, student-athlete who receives athletically related financial aid earns one retention point for staying in school and one eligibility point for being academically eligible. The total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to figure the APR.

In UAPB’s case, the men’s basketball team’s APR has decreased in the past two years, but it’s not clear why.

“It would make sense if we had big turnovers (on our roster) and the guys weren’t meeting their qualifications,” Ivory said. “The saddest thing is that it’s taking this long to resolve the matter. These kids are doing what they’re asked to do. They’re passing their classes and they’re graduating.”

Men’s basketball was not the only UAPB team penalized by the NCAA. The school’s men’s golf team will lose practice time for next season after posting a four-year rate of 829.

“The problem with a team like golf, with small numbers, (is that) if one person on a golf team does not fare well academically — all the others might make all A’s except him — it can take a drastic drop in the APR,” Hardy said. “There was no ban because the NCAA gives allowances to a smaller team to make academic improvements.”

Hardy said there were no more than six golfers on UAPB’s team during the 2011-12 school year, the last year APR statistics released Tuesday were factored in.

UAPB avoided penalties in men’s cross country, which scored 895, and men’s indoor track (892), but penalties can also be avoided if the two-year minimum of 930 is reached. The two-year scores were not available on the NCAA’s APR database.

Women’s tennis scored the highest among UAPB teams with a 984. Other APRs for UAPB include: men’s tennis, 958; women’s soccer, 947; women’s outdoor track, 933; women’s cross country, 932; women’s indoor track, 929; baseball, 923; men’s outdoor track, 914; softball, 913; football, 907; women’s basketball, 907; and women’s volleyball, 904.