The Southern men’s track and cross country teams were hit with postseason bans Tuesday by the NCAA for substandard scores on their Academic Progress Rate, dimming what was an otherwise encouraging day for the Jaguars' athletic department.
Eleven of the 13 teams in the Southern athletic department had multiyear scores above 930, the NCAA’s threshold for avoiding penalties.
It marked an upward move for an athletic department that has largely recovered from a series of penalties over the past decade. The penalties had affected football, baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and track, and the penalties had included postseason bans, fewer scholarships and reduced practice time.
"It is gratifying to have another good year of APR scores, especially when reflected in the scores of our peer group across the nation," athletic director Roman Banks said in a statement. "The APR is a team effort — student performance in the classroom, guidance of our academic staff and how well our coaches have managed their programs."
Southern's seven highest-scoring teams were women's teams, led by volleyball (989), women's tennis (982), bowling (975), soccer (965), women's basketball (964), softball (963) and women's track (960).
Southern football (952), baseball (951), women’s basketball and men’s basketball (933) are also in the clear. The football team had been allowed to conduct spring practice for the second straight year.
"The cornerstone of the football program is academics," eighth-year coach Dawson Odums said in a statement. "Academics are stressed from Day 1 of the recruiting process through graduation. ... It's a student-first focus that fits in with the holistic nature of the program. We recruit good students, who are good athletes and good people who will then go out and represent the program and the school in a positive manner once they graduate."
In addition to the two Southern teams, two other Louisiana teams — McNeese State football and Grambling men’s track — received postseason bans from the NCAA, which released its annual APR data Tuesday.
The three Louisiana schools were among 15 nationwide to receive postseason bans. To compete in the 2020-21 postseason, teams must achieve a 930 four-year APR. NCAA members chose the 930 standard because that score predicts, on average, a 50% graduation rate for a given team.
Southern men’s track (903), Southern men’s cross country (906), McNeese football (919) and Grambling men’s track (916) fell short.
Five of the 10 schools in the Southwestern Athletic Conference had at least one team banned from the 2020-21 postseason. The others were Alabama A&M (men's basketball, men's track, women's soccer), Alabama State (men's basketball) and Prairie View (football).