NCAA penalizes football program

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Southeast lost about 4 1/2 scholarships because a of low APR.

Southeast Missouri State's football team will lose just over 4 1/2 scholarships based on the program's Academic Progress Report, released by the NCAA on Wednesday.

The football team scored an 895 on the multiyear APR, 30 points below the NCAA's cutoff score. The APR is based on a school's ability to retain student-athletes each year, keep them academically eligible and also graduate them. Southeast's score was based on its performance from the 2003-04 academic year through the 2005-06 year.

Southeast received a penalty of 4.53 scholarships for its inability to score at least a 925.

"I think our APR, in football especially, was particularly impacted with our coaching change," Southeast athletic director Don Kaverman said. "Whenever you have a coaching change, you have a lot of transition on the team. I think that was the primary reason the APR was low in the particular year that was used to determine the contemporaneous penalty that was assessed against our football program."

Tony Samuel became Southeast's football coach in December 2005, replacing Tim Billings. Kaverman said he's almost certain the program already served its penalty this past season.

Southeast wasn't the only Ohio Valley Conference football team to receive a penalty. Murray State's football team lost 5.56 scholarships while Jacksonville State lost 2.32.

The Redhawks had three other programs that scored less than 925, but those programs did not receive penalties. Southeast's men's and women's basketball teams and baseball team were below the standard but escaped losing scholarships because of the NCAA's squad-size adjustment. Under the adjustment, teams that have a fewer number of scholarship student-athletes were granted a reprieve from penalties. But the squad-size adjustment has been eliminated by the NCAA, which means those three programs will have to increase their APR scores to avoid losing scholarships in the coming years.

"It's a concern obviously to me, and it's a concern to the coaches as well," Kaverman said. "But there again, in two of those three programs, you had staff turnover with coaching chances. The whole issue of retention has dramatically influenced APR."

The men's basketball team scored an 887, the women's basketball team scored a 909 and the baseball team scored an 896. Scott Edgar just concluded his first season with the men's basketball team, while John Ishee took over the women's basketball program in November.

One of the main issues that affects the APR is retention, which means coaches not only have to graduate players, they also have to keep the student-athletes in the program. Kaverman said the inclusion of retention has changed the way he approaches students who ask to be released from their scholarships.

"When a kid comes forward and wants to transfer for whatever reason ... my attitude has always been unless there was some extenuating reason not to, we would release the student so they could move on and make the most of their college career," he said. "That attitude has changed now because if you release the student, you haven't retained them and you lose an APR point. I think that's incredibly unfair to student-athletes."

There was some good news in the report as well. The Southeast men's cross country team scored a perfect 1,000 in its APR.

"We're very proud," Kaverman said. "Whenever you're cited for being one of the best in the country, it's always a real source of pride and they're to be congratulated."

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