On the same day the NCAA's 2011 Academic Progress Rate report was released, revealing continued progress for baseball, two of Southern Mississippi's three weekend starters were ruled academically ineligible for the postseason.
Righthander Jonathan Thompson (7-1, 3.49), the team's No. 3 starter, is ineligible for the rest of the season, regardless of how far the Golden Eagles go in the NCAA tournament. Fellow righty Geoffrey Thomas (10-3, 3.09), a first-team all-CUSA selection, is ineligible right now, but his status is pending.
It goes without saying that this news is a massive blow for Southern Miss, which won a share of the C-USA regular-season title for the first time since 2003 and is right in the thick of the race to host a regional. Thomas and Thompson have been fixtures in the weekend rotation all season, combining for 27 starts and 154 innings. Boomer Scarborough (1-1, 2.79), Dillon Day (1-2, 4.91) and Josh Thomason (2-1, 2.91) seem like the most likely candidates to replace them in the rotation.
Meanwhile, baseball's four-year average score in the APR climbed five points to 959—compared to football's 946 and basketball's 945. Baseball's APR has risen every year since 2003-04, when it scored just 933. This year it reached 966. Eight teams in other sports received postseason bans for inadequate APR scores, and seven others received conditional waivers, but no baseball teams appeared on either list.
One other nugget to pass along: Southern California announced that pitching coach Tom House will retire from coaching at the end of the season. House, a former USC pitcher under Rod Dedeaux, will focus his attention on the RDRBI (Rod Dedeaux for Research and Baseball Institute) and serve as a non-coaching life skills advisor to the USC program. He spent four years as the Trojans' pitching coach.
A logical candidate to replace him would be San Diego State pitching coach Eric Valenzuela, a Los Angeles native who knows USC coach Frank Cruz well from their days together in the West Coast Conference (Valenzuela played at Pepperdine, coached at St. Mary's and San Diego while Cruz coached at Loyola Marymount).
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