Three National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division-I schools, including two among the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), have been disqualified from competing in any postseason activities in 2012-13 after posting Academic Progress Rates (APR) below the NCAA’s required standards, according to reports.
The Daily Press reports that Hampton University and North Carolina A&T, both of the MEAC, fell below the four-year APR average of 900 for postseason eligibility.
Texas Southern University of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) was the third D-I school to also fall below the required APR average. Neither school’s football team will be able to perform in postseason competition, such as the championship subdivision football playoff tournament.
All three schools will also face practice restrictions so that the players can have more time to focus on their studies.
The Daily Press also reported that N.C. A&T may also face Level Three penalties, which would result in a loss of the capability to distribute financial aid, and may even lead to a potential multi-year postseason activities ban.
According to reports, the NCAA calculates the APR of athletic clubs annually, and then rates them over a four-year period. Baltimore’s Towson University’s men’s basketball team of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) also lost its postseason eligibility for the 2012-13 basketball season after posting a low four-year APR average.
Although Hampton and North Carolina A&T failed to reach required standards, the MEAC announced that most of its other school members have improved their APRs. MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas said the improvement comes from a “change in recruiting philosophy, accompanied by a new approach to academic support for student-athletes.”
"As a conference, we have really stressed the importance of recruiting student-athletes who have the characteristics for success, talented student-athletes who can do college work," Thomas said. "I want to really commend the presidents and chancellors for setting the table with higher expectations and holding people accountable for results."
Thomas said he wants coaches and recruiters of the MEAC schools to go after “academically capable kids” who are also athletes.
Thomas stated he doesn’t believe academic talents and athletic talents are “mutually exclusive.”
“The facts are that there are plenty of institutions who recruit talented student-athletes who also do well academically. They have winning records, and they win championships. These are not unchartered waters. We're not going to make excuses."
In addition to more prudent recruiting, MEAC schools have also improved its academic rates by focusing on better academic support for student-athletes.
Morgan State University Athletics Director Floyd Kerr, a member of the MEAC executive committee, said the head coaches of Morgan State’s men's basketball and football teams – two of the most troubled academic programs at the university, had created an “individualized academic action plan” for the students-athletes on their teams.
According to Kerr, the individual plans reflect the school's overall academic improvement plan, required by the NCAA for any school with a team that scores academic rates below 925.
"The coaches saw the need (for these plans). They identified and addressed the problem when we went through our analysis for the overall improvement plan," Kerr said. "Based on the activities inside the team, to change the team culture and emphasize the commitment to academics, they knew there were things they could control."
"We expect academic wins as well as athletics wins," Kerr said. "We integrate academic activities into the student-athletes' weekly plans that parallel the athletics obligations. They have academic obligations outside the classroom that are tied to the team. When this was implemented, it started to change the culture within the teams."