Lions may get to play in SWAC tourney

Arkansas-Pine Bluff likely will not miss this year’s SWAC men’s basketball tournament after all.

The university’s athletic director, Lonza Hardy Jr., said Saturday night that the conference is waiting on the NCAA to approve a formula for determining which eligible team would receive a bid to the NCAA playoffs before announcing that all 10 teams will be allowed to compete in the March 11-15 SWAC tournament in Houston. Four of the teams, including UAPB, are banned from national postseason play for issues related to the Academic Progress Rates.

The SWAC tournament champion usually receives an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. But UAPB, Mississippi Valley State, Grambling State and Southern will not be allowed to compete in any national tournament, and the conference usually prohibits such banned teams from participating in its own tourney to allow an eligible team to advance.

Southern’s penalty, extended to each of its athletic programs, came most recently in December after the NCAA discovered “unusable” data while examining academic records sent by the school, The Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge, La., reported Thursday. The report added that Southern is sending paperwork to the NCAA in hopes of overturning the penalty.

UAPB and Valley have been banned for the second year in a row.

“We got word, but we’re waiting on official word of UAPB’s admittance to the SWAC tournament,” UAPB coach George Ivory said Saturday. He did not comment further.

SWAC commissioner Duer Sharp denied any talks of a 10-team tournament. Asked if there was any truth to the matter, he said he “heard about it,” but declined to elaborate.