(Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Friday, May 16, 2014 12:59 PMEven though the season doesn’t tip off for another six months, the McNeese State men’s basketball team punched its ticket to the 2015 Southland Conference tournament on Wednesday.
That is thanks to the long arm of the NCAA, which came down heavily on three other Southland Conference basketball programs due to low Academic Progress Rates.
Central Arkansas (901), Lamar (913) and Houston Baptist (915) are all prohibited from participating in the postseason next year due to APR scores that fell under the NCAA’s new benchmark of 930 for a four-year period. All three schools would have reached the previous NCAA minimum score of 900.
Combined with Oral Roberts’ return to the Summit League and Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word’s Division I transitional status, eight of the league’s 13 teams are eligible for the eight-team field.
It is not a proud moment for the conference, which was the only one in the nation with multiple teams facing APR bans in men’s basketball.
SDLqObviously there’s a direct correlation between success in the classroom and penalties we pay for not meeting those standards,” said McNeese Athletic Director Bruce Hemphill. “It’s making all of athletics focus on the importance of success in the classroom because we’re not only being held to those standards, there’s penalties for not meeting those standards.”
While some other schools in the league are suffering APR woes, McNeese is not. It’s continued progress for an athletic department that had more sports under the APR standards than anyone else in the nation after the 2008-09 school year.
Every sport at McNeese met the multi-year APR standards, led by the men’s cross country team’s multi-year score of 992. Most sports exceeded the new minimum standards by a comfortable margin, with only women’s volleyball coming anywhere near it with a 940.
For the 2012-13 school year, five McNeese sports achieved a perfect score of 1,000: men’s basketball, men’s cross country, men’s outdoor and indoor track and field, and women’s golf.