While the OVC was spared any punishments in both men’s basketball and football under the latest round of Academic Progress Rate, or APR numbers, one coach’s former school wasn’t as lucky.
Mississippi Valley State men’s basketball potentially faces a multi-year postseason ban, as well as a reduction scholarship this year, for years while mostly under current Morehead State head coach Sean Woods.
Woods, speaking to WTVQ, says many schools in SWAC don’t have the resources to help players stay academically eligible. Many college basketball pundits have made similar claims as of late, especially given that four SWAC schools face a possible postseason ban in men’s basketball.
He adds that punishments don’t help schools, which is what they need.
“It does not help at all,” Woods told the TV station, “because what it does now is it sets them back for years. Now you have kids that are there that already have retention situations, who want to stay at a school but don’t have the opportunity to make the tournament, to even play in your conference tournament. So you’re setting yourself back even more.”
“There are kids at those schools,” Woods added, “that are calling every school in the country looking to get out of there, so it’s not doing those schools any good.”
Woods says it’s easier at Morehead State to keep kids academically eligible, but that it’s still hard.
His point is being echoed by many across the nation, and it’s a solid point. The idea behind the APR is simple: raise academic standards and graduation rates for Division I athletes. And punishing schools for not meeting that goal only perpetuates the problem.
On the other side of the argument, making the NCAA tournament means big dollars, as the OVC knows well, money that’s being missed out on by schools under a postseason ban. This is a fair incentive for a school to make sure they’re meeting the APR standard. And the NCAA has already made it easier for the smallest schools, known as “limited resource,” by providing a lower APR standard.
Still, the fact remains that small schools are being hit much harder than larger institutions, (UCONN’s suspension last year not withstanding) and the rule does negatively affect teammates who may be on track to graduate.
This is very similar to the argument heard over Penn State’s severe punishments in football over the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal. You want to punish the school, but in doing so you punish student athletes who were in no way responsible.
Sadly, no one seems to have come up with a way to do one without the other. Even if you allow a school to attend postseason tournaments, but don’t pay the school for their appearance, that lack of money could easily go back to affect the kids.
Woods’ point is solid, especially given his first hand knowledge of the situation, and as mentioned when the APR numbers were released, placing the blame solely on him for MVSU’s current suspension is unfair. But it doesn’t appear the NCAA shares his mindset, or the similar thoughts of coaches across the country.