For several years, the NCAA has been threatening to punish programs that failed to reach Academic Progress Rate standards with postseason ineligibility. The baseball programs at Centenary and Texas-Arlington are among the nine teams at eight schools that will face such a penalty unless they can win upcoming appeals.
The NCAA has used postseason bans as a punishment for serious rules violations but this is the first time it will be used as a sentence for academic woes.
"To deny a postseason opportunity is a step you don’t take lightly," Kevin Lennon, an NCAA vice president who helps oversee the program, told the USA Today. "But if . . . year after year, a program has not done well, I think you have to keep in mind what’s the bigger student-welfare issue. It’s making sure that they’re doing well academically. And if it takes the threat or the implementation of a postseason ban to change that behavior, I think the committee is prepared to do it."
Of course, the threat of a postseason ban should have been motivation enough for schools to improve their APRs; the comprehensive reform package that included roster limits and minimum scholarship thresholds shouldn’t have even been necessary. But the NCAA Board of Directors lacked the patience to let that correction process play out naturally and instead rammed reactionary reforms down coaches’ throats.
Given another year or so, UTA probably would meet minimum APR standards also. As athletics director Pete Carlon told USA Today, the Mavericks have made significant strides academically since promoting Darin Thomas to head coach in 2009.
"The whole attitude changed with the new coach," he told the paper. "You can see dramatic improvement from that point in time."
The Mavericks must hope that positive progress will be enough to sway the NCAA Board of Directors to hold off on the postseason ban.
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