The NCAA notified Southern last week it has removed the school’s athletic department from the five-year probation instituted in 2016 for violations committed between 2009-14.
The notification ends a period in which Jaguars athletics was penalized with scholarship reductions in football and basketball, practice and recruiting limitations and vacating victories involving ineligible student athletes. Southern was officially off probation effective Nov. 16.
“It gives us a clean bill of health,” athletic director Roman Banks said. “We had to do everything under a microscope, crossing all our t’s and dotting all our i’s. We had to make sure we made very wise decisions to show we can have our autonomy back.
The school had been cited for lack of institutional control for its handling of eligibility requirements, financial aid rules and compliance with academic performance standards involving more than 200 student-athletes. Southern exceeded scholarship limits in football, baseball, women’s and men’s track, football and softball by not counting financial aid received from the state, and did not enforce penalties for reduced practice time.
“We’ve proved ourselves for the last five years; we’ve been an open book,” Banks said. “This is one of the reasons I felt I was hired and it was a major goal. We’ve been successful in sports during this time, but this gives us a chance to take our games to another level.”
Southern improved its APR incrementally during the past five years. In the 2018-19 year, the women’s volleyball team had a perfect APR score of 1,000 with 11 of the 15 programs scoring above the 930 threshold.
Scholarship limitations and practice and recruiting restrictions were lifted two seasons ago in football and men’s basketball.
“We are very pleased that the Committee has recognized the diligent work of our Department of Athletics,” Southern President-Chancellor Dr. Ray Belton said in a release issued by the school. “I want to personally thank our Director of Athletics, Roman Banks, for his sacrifices, commitment and leadership ensuring that the University is in full compliance with all NCAA regulations.”
Banks said getting off probation will boost the school’s recruiting profile in all sports since it had to notify prospective student-athletes of its status.
“It gives us a chance to move forward and make our own decisions,” Banks said. “We had to show recruited student-athletes our infraction notice, which is embarrassing yourself.
“I want to thank our President-Chancellor Dr. Ray Belton, Board Chairman Domoine Rutledgeand our Board of Supervisors for entrusting me to lead this athletic department and letting me make the corrective actions that we needed to make in order to move our department forward,” Banks said in the release. “We have made tremendous strides during the last five years and will continue to keep moving us forward. This was a total team effort and I want to personally thank everyone on the team for their dedication and hard work. This is a great day for Southern University.”