The phrase “student-athlete” seems almost a misnomer at Southern University, where the academic performance of teams trailed far behind what the NCAA was willing to accept.

The dismal results of “student-athletes” in Southern classrooms suggests that “athlete-student” might be a better phrase.

Alas, given the disappointing results on the field and on the court, even that’s been a problem at Southern in the past year.

The NCAA levied two substantial penalties, one-year bans on postseason play for football and men’s basketball teams. They also will lose practice time and scholarships. The women’s track team will lose scholarships as well.

However, Southern is not the only school to show signs that it’s not doing enough to graduate its athlete-students.

LSU’s men’s basketball program will lose one scholarship, although 19 other programs were unscathed.

Only four of Louisiana’s 13 NCAA Division I schools escaped any penalties. They are: the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Tulane, Nicholls State and Louisiana Tech. They should be commended.

One of the nation’s more prominent basketball fans, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, has called attention to the dismal academic results for many men’s basketball programs. We’re glad he’s done so, but the public commentary does not improve programs.

Rather, college presidents and chancellors have to make clear that coaches are responsible for making their athlete-students into student-athletes.

A good coach takes pride in competing and in winning, but also in seeing his athletes leave school with diplomas. That goal is being lost somewhere in the competitive shuffle.