Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Ghosts of Athletics Past Haunt HBCUs

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Ghosts of Athletics Past Haunt HBCUs

Article excerpt

Arguably, not many people attending the 2014 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) basketball tournament last month anticipated Southern University losing in the first round. However, even if the top-seeded Jaguars had gone all the way, they would not have been able to advance to the NCAA championship tournament.

Southern's men's basketball team, along with the university's other 15 Division I teams, was banned from NCAA postseason play due to Academic Progress Rates and Graduation Success Rates discrepancies, which could date back as far as 2008.

Southern Athletic Director William Broussard says the 350-plus student-athletes are not to blame; instead, he attributes the NCAA ban to inadequate recordkeeping primarily by the university's registrar's office.

"We're now reconstructing history," Broussard says. "You're piecing together all of the parts that have been used to determine eligibility. Rosters [and] squad lists, in many instances, haven't been stored properly, and then you have to rely on other institutions or recreate the history manually."

For Southern, a team that broke conference and NCAA records throughout the 2013-14 season, very little provides solace for what could have been a promising postseason. Southern coach Roman Banks led his Jaguars to the NCAA tournament last season and says he didn't expect not to go back. He was named SWAC Coach of the Year, and two of his players, Calvin Godfrey and Tre'Lun Banks, were named newcomer and freshman of the year, respectively. To not play in the tournament because of skill was one thing, Banks says, but he didn't foresee any academic roadblocks, especially after getting APR scores up to prevent a ban during the 2012-13 season, when the Jaguars won the conference title.

Southern and three other institutions would not have been given a chance to play in the basketball tournament or any of the conference's sports tournaments had it not been for the SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors voting to allow them to play. The topic of allowing the teams to play was nothing new for the 10-school conference council. Both Broussard and Southern University Chancellor James Llorens say a few of the schools had been pushing for a couple of years to change the terms of NCAA postseason bans that applied to the SWAC. The council voted 7-3 to allow Southern, The University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Grambling State University and Mississippi Valley State University--all of which were banned because of APR issues--to participate in postseason conference play. …

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