Hardy: Ban won’t be lifted

Arkansas-Pine Bluff athletic director Lonza Hardy Jr. said Tuesday the one-year postseason ban placed on the men’s basketball team will not be lifted.

UAPB is one of three schools that are ineligible to compete in next week’s SWAC tournament in Garland, Texas, and any other postseason event for this season. UAPB and Mississippi Valley State received the ban in June for low Academic Progress Rates, and regular season champion Texas Southern must sit out the postseason for a number of NCAA violations tied to a lack of institutional control.

Hardy said he realized last week, when UAPB wrapped up its regular season, that the team’s four-year APR would not be more than 900 even with corrections to paperwork submitted to the NCAA to figure out the score. Men’s basketball coach George Ivory said before the regular-season finale at Mississippi Valley State that “it looks like” UAPB would have a score of better than 900, the minimum needed to avoid penalties from the NCAA, based on the information he was given.

“We knew it would be an uphill battle all along,” Hardy said of UAPB’s attempt to overturn the ban. “We’re still not at a point where our four-year APR would be over 900, so it looks like the men’s basketball postseason ban will stand.

“Even now the NCAA is working with our compliance office to make some corrections to the score, but it’s not enough ammunition for the NCAA to overturn the ban.”

Hardy declined to go into the specifics of the information that needed to be corrected. According to the NCAA, each 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 equal the APR.

UAPB’s four-year APR, released last May, was 885. A year earlier, UAPB scored 899 and was placed on public notice.

Ivory blamed the low score on an incorrect roster submitted to the NCAA to figure the score, saying each of his players either completed their degrees within five years or signed professional contracts.

“You affect these kids for something the kids before them thought they were doing right,” Ivory said Tuesday.

On the court, UAPB has posted its second winning record since the 2009-10 season, going 16-14 and 15-3 in SWAC play. The team finished tied with Southern for second place in conference standings, one game behind Texas Southern.

Hardy said a second audit of UAPB’s academic compliance which the NCAA required to be completed at the end of February has nothing to do with the postseason ban, although the APR “is tied up somewhere” in the process. Hardy said UAPB is one of 30 schools across the country selected by the NCAA for Academic Performance Program data reviews, which are designed to make sure NCAA policies are followed.

He said the first audit, which was conducted last fall, covers basic continuing eligibility matters and the second audit looks at initial eligibility matters.