Southern continues to accent the progress in the Academic Progress Rate according to the latest figures released by the NCAA.
All 15 Jaguars sports programs exceeded the required score of 930 as the school showed significant improvement in the NCAA program instituted in 2003 to hold schools accountable for the academic performance of their student athletes.
Two Jaguars teams — baseball and women’s tennis — posted perfect scores of 1,000 while the football team recorded its highest score with a 988.
“To earn this honor consecutive years demonstrates how hard our students and staff work on a daily basis to continue a culture of academic excellence within our program,” Southern athletic director Roman Banks said in a release issued by the school. “Our coaches and academic staff do a fantastic job of preparing our student-athletes for life and placing an increased emphasis on the importance of academics. That emphasis is evident in this year’s report, which highlights consistent year-to-year academic progress."
In 2016, 11 Southern athletic programs were hit with APR-related sanctions, the second time in a three-year span the school was so punished. But Southern appears to have reversed the trend while maintaining excellence on the field. The football and baseball teams team won division titles and women’s basketball captured the regular season title and conference tournament for a trip to the NCAA tournament.
In the past three years Southern teams have been hit with penalties such as postseason bans and limitations on practice time. The baseball team improved its score by 41 points and women’s tennis reached 1,000 for the third consecutive year.
Baseball’s perfect score highlights a program that has made a huge turnaround on the field under second-year coach Kerrick Jackson. The Jaguars (28-21) recently clinched the SWAC West Division title and No. 1 seed for the tournament in his second season. The Jaguars went 9-33 last year.
“The correlation between excellence academically and team success athletically cannot be understated and it’s evident in our core philosophy within the Southern University baseball program,” Jackson said. “Our commitment to restoring Jaguar Pride in the classroom, on the field and in the community remains our top priority and today’s report aids in that process.”
Four other programs had scores of 950 or better: volleyball (978), women’s bowling (974), women’s soccer (972) and women’s cross country (952). The rest of the scores include men’s cross country (949), women’s basketball (947), softball (943), men’s track (942), women’s track (940) and men’s basketball (935).
The past school year was the first time in three years all 15 sports programs were eligible for post season play. In 2016-17 only three teams were eligible and last year only five.
Several programs were unable to hold off season practice and had in-season practice limited by the sanctions. The football program recently completed its second consecutive spring practice after three years with out it. Coach Dawson Odums program also had limits on scholarships and recruiting visits until the 2018 season.
“It’s a great time to be a Jaguar,” Odums said. “(Assistant athletic director) Dr. (Trayvean) Scott and his staff continue to do an amazing job. You have to continue to move forward, but learning from your past makes that transition much easier. I’m excited for the young men who have continued to display excellence in the classroom.”