Photo: Mandela Jones/HBCU Sports

In 2020-21, 15 teams will be ineligible for the postseason due to their low Academic Progress Rates, up from eight teams last year. The penalties were assigned based on student-athlete academic achievement between 2015-16 and 2018-19.

Also in the next academic year, 21 teams at 13 schools will take penalties for not meeting the minimum academic standard set by member schools. Each of the teams ineligible for postseason play are among those subject to penalties. In 2019-20, 20 teams were subject to penalties.

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 percent graduation rate for a given team.

Teams scoring below 930 can face consequences intended to direct additional focus to academics. Those penalties can include athletically related activities and playing-season reductions, encouraging teams to devote to academic activities the time that would have been spent on athletics.

The Academic Performance Program penalty structure includes two levels, with penalties increasing in severity in level two. Schools move through the penalty structure each year, progressing to the next level of severity if their multiyear APR remains below the benchmarks.

The Division I Committee on Academics has implemented programs and policies to help schools support their student-athletes academically.

The committee has supported limited-resource schools, including historically black colleges and universities, by allowing teams that meet specific criteria to avoid penalties and/or loss of access to the postseason in some circumstances. For example, limited-resource teams historically have avoided penalties and/or loss of access to postseason by showing academic improvement by teams at the school. That standard remains available, but a team can use it only twice within a 5-year period. The committee limited its use to encourage schools to continue to work toward academic achievement.

Additionally, the national office provides educational initiatives to help limited-resource schools offer increased academic support to student-athletes. Since 2012, the Accelerating Academic Success Program has awarded more than $16 million to assist schools in developing and supporting academic programs that help student-athletes earn their degrees.

Schools may request a waiver from some or all penalty or postseason elements. Waivers are overseen by the Committee on Academics. Last week, the committee voted to allow teams facing a postseason ban in 2020-21 due to APR requirements but that lost a postseason opportunity in 2019-20 because of the COVID-19 pandemic to request a delay in the application of the 2020-21 postseason ban to the 2021-22 academic year. Committee members think few teams will be interested in such an opportunity, but some in specific circumstances may be interested.

Any team that takes advantage of the opportunity to delay must take the postseason ban in 2021-22 and still must serve Academic Performance Program penalties (e.g. loss of athletic activities) in 2020-21. If a team should face a loss of access to the postseason in 2021-22 due to continued poor academic performance, the team will push that loss to 2022-23.

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

Postseason ineligibility

  • Alabama A&M: men’s basketball, men’s track and field, women’s soccer
  • Alabama State: men’s basketball
  • Coppin State: women’s track and field
  • Delaware State: men’s basketball
  • Grambling State: men’s track and field
  • Howard: football
  • McNeese State: football
  • Prairie View A&M: football
  • Southern: men’s cross country, men’s track and field
  • Stephen F. Austin: baseball, football, men’s basketball

Level One Penalties

  • Alabama State: men’s basketball
  • Bethune-Cookman: men’s golf, men’s track and field
  • Chicago State: men’s basketball
  • Coppin State: men’s basketball
  • McNeese State: football
  • Prairie View A&M: football, women’s basketball
  • South Carolina State: women’s volleyball
  • Stephen F. Austin: baseball, football, men’s basketball

Level Two Penalties

  • Alabama A&M: men’s basketball, men’s track and field, women’s soccer
  • Coppin State: women’s track and field
  • Delaware State: men’s basketball
  • Grambling State: men’s track and field
  • Howard: football
  • Southern: men’s cross country, men’s track and field

Courtesy: NCAA/Michelle Brutlag Hosick


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