Hardy: Requested audit independent of sanctions

Arkansas-Pine Bluff athletic director Lonza Hardy confirmed Tuesday night that the NCAA has mandated an independent compliance audit of academic progress by the school’s student-athletes, but said the mandate is independent of sanctions against the UAPB men’s basketball team for failure to reach the NCAA Academic Progress Rate standards.

However, he hopes any data audited will show UAPB actually met or exceeded standards and that the team’s ban from postseason play for the 2012-13 season would be lifted. UAPB made the NCAA tournament in the 2009-10 season.

“I guess that is a possibility, although the (NCAA’s) aim is not to remove penalties related to the APR,” Hardy said.

Hardy said the NCAA selects 30 schools each year as part of a program initiated during the summer of 2011 to make sure all data related to student-athletes’ academic progress is accurate. UAPB was put on public notice by the NCAA for a low APR in May 2011, but UAPB’s selection for the program is not a related sanction, Hardy said.

UAPB received a request from the NCAA in July to participate in the program, according to Hardy. He estimated the audit will include a review of about 600 student-athlete records from the fall 2007 to spring 2010 semesters at a cost of $32,000. The data must be submitted to the NCAA by Sept. 27.

“It is our hope when this audit is over, we get a definite answer on the APR,” Hardy said.

Hardy has asked the Arkansas Legislative Council for permission to set aside a law requiring universities to solicit three bids from contractors first before selecting a contractor. The ALC is expected to hear that request today.

The men’s basketball team’s most recent APR is 885, which is 45 points shy of the minimum needed to avoid sanctions. UAPB head coach George Ivory blamed the score on an incorrect roster submitted to the NCAA needed to figure the score, adding a player who competed for a school other than UAPB was incorrectly listed on the roster.

Hardy told The Commercial in a June 21 article that particular incident didn’t lead to the low score, but similar incidents were among matters the school was dealing with.

Of the 10 schools that were banned from the 2013 NCAA tournament, Cal State-Bakersfield is the only one whose sanctions were overturned following a review of updated APR data. The review was conducted by the school’s administrators.