Newly revealed academic data on the Arkansas-Pine Bluff men’s basketball team’s updated Academic Progress Rates from the fall 2008 semester through spring 2012 are higher than what the NCAA’s database shows, which would mean UAPB should not have received postseason bans for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
An APR, as defined by the NCAA, “is a term-by-term measure of eligibility and retention for Division I student-athletes” and designed to hold athletic programs more accountable for academic progress. UAPB is banned from postseason play for the second straight season because it did not meet the NCAA’s four-year APR benchmark of 900 or two-year minimum of 930. This means the Golden Lions, regardless of their finish in SWAC regular-season play, will not be eligible for the conference and any national postseason tournaments.
The NCAA’s APR database, which was updated last June, shows that UAPB scored a multi-year, or four-year, score of 881 through the 2011-12 academic year, 885 through 2010-11, 889 through 2009-10, 906 through 2008-09 and 907 through 2007-08. APR scores for each athletic program in NCAA Division I are annually released in late spring and calculated through the preceding academic year.
But a public report for all of UAPB’s athletic teams by the NCAA, dated Oct. 25, 2013, and made available through a link on the database, shows the score through 2011-12 to be 890.
A source within the Golden Lions basketball program provided The Commercial with updated data he said UAPB officials intend to send to the NCAA, if not already sent. The source revealed the data on the condition of anonymity.
However, UAPB athletic director Lonza Hardy Jr. said in an email: “There is no new information relative to corrections to our men’s basketball APR scores other than that which has been previously articulated. APR data in the NCAA database should be consistent with data here at the university, since the NCAA gets its data from its member institutions.”
The newly revealed data shows that UAPB scored single-year APRs of 975 for 2008-09, 952 for 2009-10, 933 for 2010-11 and 935 for 2012-13. A value of “39090.90909” is shown for 2011-12, but given the updated APR data, the score should be 886, which is reflected in the public report.
“We don’t have an academic problem,” Golden Lions head coach George Ivory said. “Everybody assumes, (with a) low APR, there’s low academic performance. … To me, it sends a bad image out there that kids are doing what they’re supposed to do, and they’re being punished for something that’s not happening.
“If they had low academic performance, I’d be the first one to say, I need to do a better job with these kids academically.”
Each student-athlete may receive up to four points — one point each semester for being academically eligible and one point each semester for being retained. A point is not counted against a student-athlete if he graduates or signs a professional contract.
To figure the APR for each school year, the total eligibility points is divided by the total retention points. The result is then multiplied by 1,000.
For the four-year APR, the eligibility and retention points are totaled over a four-year period and the same formula is then used. This formula reveals UAPB scored 936 through the 2011-12 season, meaning a ban should not have been placed on this season’s team since the four-year APR would have been released in 2013.
More data the source provided shows in 2007-08, the season before Ivory became head coach, UAPB earned 40 out of possible 48 points, which would have led to a single APR of 833. But the 2007-11 four-year APR, then, would have been 920 instead of the posted 885, still enough to meet the NCAA benchmark of 900 and avoid sanctions for the 2012-13 season.
In an article before the end of the 2012-13 basketball season, Hardy said that corrections were made in the 2011-12 men’s basketball data but added the scores were not enough for the NCAA to overturn the ban. The source revealed more data that shows not only single-year scores between the 2008-09 and 2010-11 seasons consistent with what the NCAA posted but also higher scores not consistent with the newly released data.
“I cannot comment on the collection or submission process of the data from 2008-09 to 2010-11, but what I can say is the fact that corrections were made is what the NCAA expects of an institution when that is necessary,” Hardy said.
Given the updated data, UAPB would score 927 for the 2009-13 four-year period. Beginning with the 2013-14 season, athletic teams must post a 930 four-year or 940 two-year average. The 930 four-year average will be the only benchmark starting with the 2014-15 season.
UAPB may deserve a higher single-year APR than determined for 2011-12. According to the updated data, Davon Haynes, who is now in his second year of playing with the Golden Lions, was deemed ineligible after the fall 2011 semester although he posted higher than the minimum 2.0 grade-point average needed to play. An eligibility point for that term would have given UAPB 40 out of 44 points and a 909 APR instead of 886.
Haynes did not play during the 2011-12 season to meet NCAA transfer rules. He spent his first 1 1/2 collegiate years at Bowling Green in Ohio.
“He should have never been declared ineligible,” the source said.
Term and cumulative grade-point averages for each student-athlete also are shown in the corrected data from fall 2008 to spring 2013. During this span, only three players posted cumulative GPAs of less than 2.0.
Since the first postseason ban was handed down on UAPB, Ivory has blamed an incorrect Dominic Moore listed in data used to figure APRs as part of the reason for miscalculated APRs. The NCAA backed up this claim and Moore, who played at UAPB from 2009-11, earned each of his possible eight points, according to data from the source.
Hardy said he was unaware of any procedures within the compliance office or athletic department that led to the low APR scores as posted by the NCAA. He added those procedures are not related to the ineligibility of “a few” football players at UAPB to begin the 2013 season. It was discovered during this past football season some of those athletes were academically ineligible.
UAPB director of compliance Nancy Lake deferred questions to Hardy.
Maria DeJulio, who identified herself as a contractor with NCAA who assists universities in dealing with APR matters, deferred questions about UAPB’s issue to NCAA public relations personnel, but would not confirm whether she assists UAPB in particular. Attempts to reach the personnel have been unsuccessful.
The NCAA placed UAPB on public notice in the spring of 2011 for the 889 four-year score, but the team was allowed to compete in the SWAC tournament in 2012, finishing in the semifinal round.
The Golden Lions also face reduction in practice time and “in-season and out-of-season restrictions,” which include reduced recruiting efforts, as part of their sanctions. Grambling State and Mississippi Valley State face similar penalties including the postseason ban for this year, meaning if UAPB’s ban is not overturned, this year’s SWAC tournament will include only seven of the conference’s 10 teams. (Alabama State’s postseason ban was overturned during the summer after the NCAA reviewed its data.)
“The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is moving forward in ensuring academic success of our student-athletes,” Hardy said. “We are committed to making sure that every single student who is a part of our program continues to excel both academically as well as athletically. Our student-athletes are pacesetters in the classroom on our campus and we intend to keep it that way.”
UAPB is hoping to get the ban overurned, but when a resolution to the matter will come is not known.
“When does this all end?” Ivory said. “What is it we are supposed to do to get off this ban?”