Even though HBCUs as a collective saw improvement in Academic Progress Rate over a one-year period, as many as seven schools will be banned from postseason play following the latest round of APR scores released by the NCAA on Wednesday.

Among the notable schools that are ineligible for postseason play in football during the 2016-17 season include Southern, Florida A&M, Morgan State, Howard and Savannah State.


In addition to football, Southern faces postseason ineligibility in baseball, men’s cross country, men’s track, women’s basketball, women’s cross country, women’s track, softball and women’s volleyball.

According to the NCAA, Southern’s football and baseball programs posted rates of 816 and 697, respectively.

The Alcorn State and Savannah State men’s basketball teams, FAMU men’s track team and the Alabama State men’s tennis team, will miss postseason play as well.

Schools may request a waiver from some or all penalty elements. Waivers are overseen by the Committee on Academics. The Academic Performance Program penalty structure includes three levels, with penalties increasing in severity at each level. Schools move through the penalty structure each year, progressing to the next level of severity if their multiyear APR remains below the benchmarks.

The specific penalties for each team are listed on the school’s report in the APR searchable database.

Level One penalties focus on practice restrictions, which provide additional time for teams to focus on academics. Teams facing this penalty lose four hours and one day of practice time per week in season, which is intended to be replaced with academic activities. In 2016-17, 10 teams face this level of penalty.

Level Two penalties include the Level One penalty and a reduction of four hours of practice time out of season, which is intended to be replaced with academic activities. At Level Two, the team’s non-championship season, or spring football, is eliminated. Teams without non-championship seasons face a reduced number of contests. In 2016-17, six teams fall into this category.

Level Three penalties include all Level One and Two penalties, plus a menu of potential additional penalties. These can include additional practice and contest restrictions; coach-specific penalties (including game and recruiting restrictions); restricted access to practice for incoming students who fall below certain academic standards; restricted membership; and potential multiyear bans on postseason competition. Fifteen teams face this level of penalty in 2016-17.

Teams with postseason ineligibility in 2016-17

Alabama State University
Men’s tennis

Alcorn State University
Men’s basketball

Florida A&M University
Men’s cross country, men’s track, football

Howard University
Football, men’s swimming and diving, women’s lacrosse, softball

Morgan State University
Men’s cross country, football

Savannah State University
Men’s basketball, football

Southern University, Baton Rouge
Baseball, men’s cross country, men’s track, football, women’s basketball, women’s cross country, women’s track, softball, women’s volleyball

Teams facing Level One APR penalties

Florida A&M University
Men’s Golf

Howard University
Football, men’s swimming and diving, softball

Morgan State University
Men’s basketball, men’s cross country

North Carolina A&T State University
Men’s basketball, women’s tennis

Teams facing Level Two APR penalties

Alabama State University
Men’s tennis

Florida A&M University
Men’s cross country

Howard University
Women’s lacrosse

Morgan State University
Football

Savannah State University
Men’s basketball

Southern University, Baton Rouge
Women’s bowling

Teams facing Level Three APR penalties

Alcorn State University
Men’s basketball

Florida A&M University
Men’s basketball, men’s track, football

Savannah State University
Football

Southern University, Baton Rouge
Baseball, men’s cross country, men’s track, football, women’s basketball, women’s cross country, women’s track, softball, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball

APR scores are improving for HBCUs

The news comes on the heels of another report lauding HBCUs for increasing it single-year APR scores.  The single-year APR for HBCUs increased from 918 to 956 in the last five years.

The Academic Performance Program assists HBCUs and limited-resource schools in a number of ways. Among them, it provided teams a longer period of time to improve their scores to surpass the 930 penalty threshold from the old benchmark of 900, and allows teams at some schools to avoid penalties if they show improvement.

Additionally, the Accelerating Academic Success Program offers financial assistance to limited-resource schools, many of which are HBCUs, to support their academic needs.

The NCAA staff also is working with those schools to develop educational initiatives that will help administrators learn and apply best practices from similar schools where student-athlete academic performance has improved.

North Carolina Central University is one of the schools that has seen its team APR numbers improve from the low 900s (some of its teams were as low as the 800s) in 2008-09 to the mid-to-high 900s in the most recent release. Several North Carolina Central teams earned a perfect 1,000.

Etienne Thomas, associate athletics director and senior woman administrator at North Carolina Central, said the turnaround wasn’t due to one particular decision or moment. Instead, she credits a variety of changes that underscored the school’s commitment to the academic success of all its students, an attitude that began with the school’s president and was supported at every level.

“It doesn’t mean everything is always perfect, but we are communicating and everybody has the same goal — from the chancellor and the provost down to the coach,” Thomas said in a NCAA news release.

The school also changed the way it was recruiting. Coaches began to focus on academics in recruiting, and administrators implemented academic standards for incoming student-athletes that were higher than both the NCAA’s standards and the Eagles’ benchmark for the student body.

The school now requires coaches to fill out academic paperwork for students they want to recruit in addition to evaluating athletic prowess.

Genese Lavalais, associate athletics director for academics at Jackson State University, which has seen a turnaround similar to North Carolina Central, told NCAA.org that her school employed many of the strategies that worked at North Carolina Central.

The school allows them to take up to 19 hours per term, and the athletics staff encourages them to take a heavier course load each term.

“We put them in the frame of mind that they can do it,” Lavalais said. “We believe in them and push them and make sure the campus team is behind them as well. We tell them up front you can leave here in five years with two degrees, but you have to make sure you are putting yourself in a position to make the scholarship work for you. … We are constantly motivating them. We want you to be successful as a student-athlete. And you can do both if you prioritize.”

NCAA.org contributed to this report

Kendrick Marshall
Editor for HBCU Sports, award-winning journalist, and a graduate of Jackson State University.

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  1. […] of an eight-game winning streak, is ineligible to play in this year’s Celebration Bowl due to a postseason ban announced by the NCAA in April for low APR […]

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