Jacksonville State basketball takes APR hit
by Al Muskewitz
amuskewitz@annistonstar.com
Jun 20, 2012 | 4347 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JACKSONVILLE — When the NCAA makes its annual Academic Progress Rate report public later today, the news won’t be good for the Jacksonville State men’s basketball program.

The Gamecocks seem to have dodged a bullet regarding a ban on post-season play, but coach James Green’s program still will face some serious penalties, including scholarship limitations, a 10-day reduction in its practice and playing season and the loss of three games.

It is the only program at JSU — and in the Ohio Valley Conference — facing APR penalties.

The Star confirmed the sanctions from a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the report had not yet been made public.

JSU athletics director Warren Koegel declined to comment on the report Tuesday, but said school officials would address it today.

“We’ve been asked by the NCAA, everybody’s been asked and told, the best way to deal with this is talk about it when it becomes public information,” Koegel said. “We’ll talk about it after it becomes public.”

In the meantime, he was planning to meet with the basketball team and other administrators to formulate a plan forward.

APR has been described as a real-time look at a team’s academic success each semester or quarter, taking into account eligibility, retention and graduation. This year’s report covers the academic years of 2007-08 to 2010-11.

JSU basketball had a multi-year score of 889. The NCAA cut line for penalties is 900.

A year ago, for the first time in the history of the APR initiative, no JSU team was under penalties after the basketball team received a waiver.

The JSU athletics department has ramped up its academic game plan since the football program was hit with a postseason ban in 2009 for its APR shortcomings.

The basketball program is subject to a post-season ineligibility penalty, according to the latest report, but apparently was spared because of what the NCAA describes as “demonstrated academic improvement.” The Gamecocks had single-year APRs of 940, 974 and 898 each of the last three reporting years, but its current multi-year score is saddled by a 769 in the first year of the cycle — the year before Green took over as the coach. That score will come off in next year’s report.

In lieu of post-season ineligibility, the team faces additional penalties of undisclosed scholarship reductions previously conditionally waived, a limit to five days of countable practice per week and four hours of out-of-season work per week. The playing and practice calendar also has been reduced.

In addition to the OVC schedule, The Star recently reported the Gamecocks will play a series of games in Las Vegas to open the season. JSU has not officially announced its 2012-13 basketball schedule.

“I feel bad for the kids,” said former Gamecocks coach Mike LaPlante, whose final JSU season was that 2007-08 year. “In my mind that’s part of the transition process; when there’s a turnover in the coaching staff, you have turnover (among players). A lot of teams go through that same negative hit when there’s that transition.

“I don’t think it’s right the (2012-13 team) has to pay a penalty for something (that happened) before they even considered going to JSU. You don’t want anybody — especially the kids — to have to suffer penalties from things they don’t have any control over and weren’t a part of; that’s what makes it tough on those kids and that coaching staff now. It’s years later and this year’s team has to suffer penalties they have nothing to do with. It’s really unfair.”

When Green was hired to succeed LaPlante, he had a clause in his initial contract outlining bonuses for academic success. He asked that clause be removed, saying the demand for academic excellence is as inherent to a coach’s job description as the demand for stout defense.

Had the program faced a post-season ban, it would have been ineligible for the OVC Tournament at a time when it had just started making strides in the league. The Gamecocks won their first conference tournament game since 2006 this past season, beating preseason favorite Austin Peay in the first round before falling to Morehead State.

Even with the ban, it still would have been eligible to receive revenue from the league’s newly instituted basketball enhancement plan, conference officials said.

The football program posted a 915 multi-year score. Last week, the women’s tennis team received Public Recognition for being among the top 10 percent APR in its sport.

Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.

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