Men’s basketball, others show APR positives

While 10 athletic teams at Arkansas-Pine Bluff failed to reach the four-year NCAA Academic Progress Rate benchmark of 930, six at the university posted a perfect single-year score of 1,000.

And the men’s basketball team, coming off two straight postseason bans for poor four-year scores, came close with a 978.

In a news release sent late Wednesday, UAPB announced the single-year success of its athletic teams, based on the 2012-13 school year. The release came shortly after news broke that UAPB’s football team, which scored an 882 and therefore would not be eligible for the NCAA Division I Football Championship playoffs, would still be eligible to compete for a SWAC championship, as would the other nine teams in the conference.

According to the release, the women’s tennis team received an APR Public Recognition Award, presented to each team that earns multiyear (or four-year) APRs among the top 10 percent of all teams in a particular sport. The team scored single-year and multiyear 1,000s, while men’s cross country, men’s tennis, men’s indoor track, women’s soccer and women’s softball each had a single-year 1,000 for UAPB.

Multiyear APRs reflect performance from the fall 2009 semester to spring 2013 semester. Data for the 2013-14 school year is not expected to be released until next spring.

“The administration, coaching staff and academic support personnel have all been working hard to ensure that all of our teams excel in the classroom and on the field,” UAPB athletic director Lonza Hardy Jr. said in the statement. “Their efforts in working collaboratively with other personnel across campus are helping the UAPB Athletics department raise the bar for our students, who are already pacesetters on our campus in the realm of academic excellence.”

The men’s basketball team, which will not face any sanctions for the 2014-15 season, scored a single-year APR higher than the Division I average of 957, the public institution average of 952 and private institution average of 968, all for that sport. The team’s 2011-12 APR was 886, giving the team a two-year average of 932 — missing that benchmark by 8 points — and factoring into its four-year mark of 904.

Men’s golf, which had a four-year 726 (the low score primarily due to fewer scholarship athletes), scored a single-year 950.

That team and seven others at UAPB that fell below the multiyear 930 — women’s volleyball (929), women’s cross country (892), women’s outdoor track (879), women’s indoor track (879), men’s cross country (857), men’s indoor track (855), men’s outdoor track (854) and men’s golf (726) — were not penalized by the NCAA.

Michelle Brutlag Hosick, an associate director of public and media relations for the NCAA, said limited-resource schools can avoid sanctions for not reaching the 930 four-year or 940 two-year benchmarks by demonstrating “real, meaningful improvement” through an “improvement-plus” model but declined to speak specifically about UAPB, which is a limited-resource university.

In an email, Hosick broke down the five ways a team could meet requirements for the model. A team must first earn a 930 single-year APR, then its performance is analyzed for improvement and the improvement must be shown based on one of these “tests”:

  • Comparing the most recent single-year APR to the previous single-year APR
  • Comparing the most recent single-year APR to the multiyear APR for the previous two years
  • Comparing the most recent single-year APR to the multiyear APR for the previous three years
  • Comparing the multiyear APR from years four and three to the multiyear APR from years two and one, and
  • Comparing the initial single-year APR to the multiyear APR for the three most recent years.

UAPB’s 2012-13 single-year APR for football is 919.

“Our football coaching staff and student-athletes will take their APR status as a challenge that will be faced with the same zeal and determination that they tackle any other obstacle in life,” Hardy said. “They have our full support as we work together to enhance the stature of the program.”

UAPB football coach Monte Coleman said Wednesday the ineligibility of several key players, which was revealed two days before the 2013 season opener, played a large part in the low multiyear APR, but cited the university’s ongoing efforts to address all APR matters across the athletic department.

The SWAC confirmed in a Thursday release that all of Southern’s athletic teams are ineligible for postseason competition due to “unusable data” for APR matters. While the release did not specify whether the ineligibility includes conference playoffs, SWAC associate director of media relations Zena Lewis said Wednesday that all 10 football teams in the conference would be eligible to compete for a spot in the December conference title game in Houston. The SWAC does not send a team to the NCAA playoffs in football.