UPDATE: 4/10/13 4:30 PM
In a conversation with the UWM Post, UW-Milwaukee Athletic Director Amanda Braun spoke more on the post season ban.
The issue was first discovered late in the fall of 2013, when the athletic department was compiling their 2012-2013 data to submit to the NCAA for their APR score. They noted the issues that would result in deduced points, and proceeded to file the appeal that was denied yesterday.
The athletic department did know that some of the academic progress in recent years has suffered, and has actively worked to improve it since, such as the hiring of additional academic advisers, and working with student-athletes to transition better into a collegiate atmosphere. By providing more support, Braun and the athletic department hopes to not only bring up the APR, but help student-athletes finish their education.
“This really was not an isolated incident. The past few years were not good,” said Braun. “We will continue to find ways to improve student-athletes.”
The APR score is totaled on a four year rolling scale, and the university had to earn a 930 four-year average APR or a 940 average over the most recent two years to participate in championships. This is a recent change to the rule, as before the APR was set at 925. If a school had a year below 925, they could potentially lose scholarships. A team could only be banned from postseason if they scored under 900 for three years in a row. In 2011, the NCAA decided to raise the rate to 930, and if any teams four year average was below 930, they were automatically banned from postseason play the following season.
However, things are looking up, as the rest of UWM’s athletic teams scored above 930, and with enough work, the basketball team should be eligible for the 2015-2016 postseason. One of the more recent NCAA teams to be banned for APR scores under the new rules was Connecticut, who just recently won the NCAA Championship in their first year off the ban.
Within the basketball team itself, the news has shocked some members of the team, who seem to be using as motivation to get better.
You go and get through so much just for something else to knock you down, Still Strong! #ItsJustUs
— Jay O (@FlyGuyJayO) April 9, 2014
UPDATE: 4/9/13 8:30 PM
Per an anonymous source, the postseason ban is strictly due to previous players in the UWM program. The APR score of 908 was for the 2012-2013 season and has nothing to do with any of the current member of the UWM men’s basketball team. The penalties to the APR score are due to former players who left the school after their eligibility was up, under circumstances that the NCAA does not allow.
If a player finishes his NCAA eligibility, but does not graduate afterward, the schools Academic Performance Rate is hit. The APR penalties in these situations also apply if a player has to leave school for personal reasons or issues surrounding going pro. For example, if a player goes pro immediately after their eligibility is up, the APR isn’t affected if they don’t graduate. However, any other circumstances of going pro mean the NCAA penalizes the school.
It is a harsher blow for a team paying the price of the often-confusing NCAA rule book. And since the ruling was announced, other school’s coaches have been calling UWM players offering opportunities to transfer, per Jimmy Lemke of PantherU, as well as guard Akeem Springs
One player says he’s already gotten calls from other coaches. His line: “better not play us cause I’ll kick your ass.” That’s my boy.
— PantherU.com (@PantherU) April 9, 2014
Coaches please have some respect. Not the time. Thank you. #PantherNation
— Prince Akeem Springs (@SpringsAkeem) April 9, 2014
(END OF UPDATE)
In a statement released today by the University, the men’s basketball team was denied their final appeal of a postseason ban for the 2014-2015 season due to low Academic Performance Rate (APR) scores. This means that the UWM Panthers are ineligible for both the Horizon League Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.
“The academic success of our student-athletes will always be the top priority in the Milwaukee athletic department,” UWM Athletic Director Amanda Braun said. “We are aware that problems did occur in the past, but we have faced them and made changes and are accepting the consequences from the NCAA. Well before we even started the appeals process, we began implementing new processes to help all of our student-athletes have more success in the classroom.”
The athletic department has been implementing changes in their academic progress such as hiring a third academic adviser (prior to 2011, there was only one), a class for incoming student-athletes that helps them transition to college life, and screening of student-athletes for learning disabilities.
The men’s basketball score for the current four-year 2012-13 cycle was 908, falling below the mandated minimum of 930, prompting the NCAA to issue the penalty. The decision is not a sanction based on any type of violation of NCAA rules, but a penalty handed out because of the APR score.
“This year our men’s basketball program has done extraordinarily well and we have a lot to be proud of both on and off the court,” Braun said. “We are fully confident we have addressed the issues when it comes to the academic performance of our student-athletes.”
As well as the postseason ban, the basketball team will now be required to replace four hours of practice time each week with four hours of academic studies. They will also be limited to five days of basketball-related activities instead of six.
APR is a measure used by the NCAA to determine whether or not players from any particular team are in good academic standing. It is calculated using a combination of retention of student-athletes and their academic eligibility each season.
Teams lose points for two reasons. If a scholarship player leaves at the end of a semester and is not in good academic standing or if a scholarship player is not academically eligible at the end of a semester.
The ban does end after the 2014-2015 season, as long as the APR score is over the minimum. If the Athletic Department keeps up their progress, it is feasible to get over it.
The news is devastating for a team that made its first NCAA tournament in eight years. It puts a hamper on the careers of Trinson White, Evan Richard, and Steve McWhorter, who all will be seniors next season.
We will keep you updated with this story as it progresses.