By MICHAEL MAROT (AP Sports Writer)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA recently announced it has banned Jackson State University and Southern University from postseason play in football next season, along with banning Grambling and Southern from postseason play in men’s basketball citing, poor classroom performance by each team and a host of others in the Southwestern Athletic and Mid-Eastern Athletic conferences.
The NCAA released the penalties on May 31 as it disclosed the details of its latest Academic Progress Rate report. Southern became the first school to be banned from the postseason in two sports in the same year – football and men’s basketball – because of academic performance.
The impact of the penalties could have a major impact on the SWAC and MEAC, both comprised of historically Black colleges and both of which get automatic bids to the NCAA basketball tournaments.
The numbers are striking: The NCAA evaluated more than 340 schools for the APR report but only 24 of them — about 7 percent of the total — are considered historically Black colleges or universities. Yet of the 58 harshest penalties handed out this year, half went to historically Black colleges, and all of them in the two conferences.
“The NCAA will work closely with historically black colleges and universities as well, as they seek to improve the academic performance of their student-athletes,” the organization said.
SWAC commissioner Duer Sharp told NCAA.org that turnover in school staff — including school presidents — hurts academic performance.
“To effect change, there has to be a directive from the president or chancellor. But with the turnover, you never get that directive. That chancellor or president is no longer there after they give that order,” Sharp said. “It really makes it difficult when you don’t have that constant voice from the top asking, ‘Where are we on APR?’ When you get a new president coming in, they’ve got 800 other things on their plate.”
The 10-member SWAC has a long and storied football history thanks in large part to Grambling, Jackson State and Southern.
Coach Eddie Robinson spent 56 seasons as Grambling’s coach and sent a long list of players to the NFL. The most notable may have been quarterback Doug Williams, the 1987 Super Bowl MVP, who is coaching his alma mater for the second time.
Jackson State, in Mississippi, produced one of the NFL’s greatest players, running back Walter Payton, along with Hall of Famers Jackie Slater and Lem Barney.
And Southern’s alums include another NFL Hall of Famer, Mel Blount, as well as Philadelphia Eagles record-setting receiver Harold Carmichael and Arizona Cardinals defensive back Aeneas Williams.
But it’s not just the bans that could swing the competitive balance in either league.
Texas Southern, which played for last year’s SWAC football title, must give up nearly 15 football scholarships, while Jackson State lost half a dozen. Both of those schools will have their practice time reduced.
The 13-member MEAC is taking a similar hit, minus the bans.
Delaware State is losing nine football scholarships, North Carolina A&T is losing three, and both schools must contend with new practice limitations, too.
The punishments could be just as debilitating in basketball.
Coppin State will lose four scholarships, while Norfolk State is losing two. Those two schools, along with Morgan State, also face practice reductions.
Also, Mississippi Valley State and Southern will each lose two scholarships in basketball. Grambling will have one scholarship taken away as well.