BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Southern football coach Stump Mitchell on Monday confirmed the loss of nine full scholarships spread among 19 players - the result, he said, of NCAA penalties brought forth because of SU’s substandard score in the Academic Progress Rate.
Mitchell, however, said the team had yet to lose any players because of the predicament.
The blow was announced on the eve of this year’s Southwestern Athletic Conference media day and less than two weeks before his team starts practice, Aug. 4.
Southern was susceptible to harsh penalties because its football team had a history of substandard APR scores.
The APR is a rolling four-year system that measures classroom performance of student-athletes on every Division I team. Teams scoring below 925 can face penalties, and teams scoring below 900 are subject to “severe” penalties.
According to data released this spring by the NCAA, Southern’s football team had a multiyear score of 899 from 2006-09, the final four years of the Pete Richardson era.
In May, the NCAA initially handed Southern a one-year postseason ban - the SWAC later voted to also keep SU out of this season’s championship football game - as well as a reduction of 1.67 scholarships.
Typically, in the Football Championship Subdivision, teams have 63 full scholarships to divide among 85 players.
But Mitchell said the NCAA later revised its penalty, ruling that this fall, Southern will be allowed to give only 54 scholarships - and it can only spread those scholarships over 54 players.
That ruling left Mitchell in a pickle.
The coach said that this spring, he had signed recruits and accepted transfers with plans to spread 63 scholarships to 73 players.
Instead, Mitchell said, he had to convince 19 players to go through this season without full or partial scholarships.
“This was something we didn’t want to do, and some people are upset, and rightfully so,” Mitchell said. “But to this point, no one (player) has said anything to me about leaving Southern. All 19 guys are willing to take one for the team. Hopefully, we can make things right with them later on.”
Earlier this month, Southern sent a proposal to the NCAA asking for relief.
Under the proposal, Mitchell would accept an $8,000 fine, and the football program would take a five-scholarship penalty this season, then take a four-scholarship penalty next season if the team APR climbs above 900 - the NCAA’s benchmark for avoiding severe penalties.
Mitchell said his team will score higher than 900, noting that 21 players finished the spring semester with a GPA of 3.0 or better.
Interim Athletic Director Sandy Pugh confirmed that Southern’s request with the NCAA is pending.
“We’re on hold until they make a decision,” Pugh said. “What we know is, the NCAA is about doing right by the kids. So we hope they’ll do right by our kids.”
Attempts to reach the NCAA were unsuccessful.
In other news, Mitchell confirmed the addition of several players:
- ?Wide receiver Jared Green, son of former Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green, has transferred from Virginia to SU. Green, who will be a senior, had 35 catches for 363 yards and two touchdowns from 2008-10 at Virginia.
- ?Reserve linebacker Jared Detrick also has transferred from Virginia. Detrick had 17 tackles and one forced fumble in three years.
- ?Running back Marquis Williams has transferred from NAIA Lambuth University, where he led the team last year with 872 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 138 carries.
- ?Williams joins linebacker Jamie Payton, a former Dutchtown standout who also transferred from Lambuth, a private school in Jackson, Tenn., that closed down last month after 168 years.
Mitchell has found potential replacements for punter Josh Duran and kicker William Griswold. Southern has added Matthew Hill, a transfer from East Central (Miss.) Community College, and Jamie Galvin, a freshman from Evans, Ga.
Both players are listed as place-kickers/punters.
Duran was a senior last year.
Griswold, a freshman last season, left Southern during the summer and returned home to Tampa, Fla.
Perro on the move
Wynton Perro, who practiced at quarterback as a freshman last season, has moved to the secondary. Perro was behind Dray Joseph and Jeremiah McGinty at quarterback and also might have been challenged by incoming freshman J.P. Douglas.
Perro, a Houston native, will be a redshirt freshman this year.
Now speaking ...
Mitchell said sophomore linebacker Anthony Balancier and junior tackle Chris Browne will accompany him today in Birmingham.
Browne, a Cleveland native, has been a mainstay on the offensive line the past two seasons. Balancier, a walk-on true freshman last season, finished third on the team with 45 tackles.
Mitchell said he’s bringing Balancier to Birmingham in part because the linebacker is “doing what he needs to do. He’s had two semesters with a 3.0 (grade-point) average.”
Another staff addition
SU has a new sports information director, but he’s not exactly new to the Bluff.
Chris Jones, a graduate of Scotlandville High and Southern, has taken over as SID for Kevin Manns, who left last week after 11 years.
Jones spent the past two years as an academic counselor in the athletic department. He previously worked in the SU student media office and also as Manns’ assistant SID.