HBCU Athletic Programs Struggle with Academic Progress

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By MARK F. GRAY

Special To The Afro American Newspaper

That improbable season where Morgan State woke up the echoes of their championship glory has been tarnished by the NCAA’s sanctions against a team that did not meet its Academic Progress Rate (APR) for the 2014-2015 year. Morgan’s problems meeting NCAA guidelines for compliance are a symptom of a larger problems facing HBCU athletic programs around the country.

The Bears football program is banned from postseason competition next year after falling short of the APR.  The APR is an annual review of the progress student athletes are making toward graduation. In 2003 the NCAA implemented the APR and awards a point to each student athlete for remaining academically eligible and in school. The maximum any program can receive is 1,000 points. Any team that doesn’t score at least 930 faces sanctions such as reduced practice time to increase academic concentration.

Morgan State's 2015 MEAC Championship Team did not make NCAA APR and is ineligible for postseason this year.

Morgan State’s 2015 MEAC Championship Team did not make NCAA APR and is ineligible for postseason this year.

Morgan is not the only Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference program not to make APR.  Howard University’s football program scored 908 and are ineligible as well.  Howard, already facing a conditional penalty, failed to meet the conditions so now they must serve it although it remains under appeal. Howard and Morgan are just two of the MEAC programs facing sanctions this fall.

Conference rivals Florida A&M and Savannah St. are also ineligible as is fellow HBCU Southern University of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Five of the seven FCS football schools facing postseason bans are HBCUs which begs the question of competence versus resources when it comes to issues of academic compliance.

Most schools can’t afford to adequately staff academic support but there is no synergy between athletics and other departments which could streamline efforts .

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