Tennessee State University has implemented new programs to improve the academic performance of its football-student athletes. This comes following notification from the NCAA’s Committee on Academic Performance that the program will be banned from postseason competition for the 2015 season. The notice states that the TSU football program failed to meet the academic standards required by the NCAA Academic Progress Rate. This year marks the first time that a TSU athletic program has ever been issued a post-season ban or Level I penalty since the NCAA started collecting APR data 11 years ago.
“While 14 of our athletic programs have scored at or above the NCAA’s APR benchmark, unfortunately, the football team fell short,” said Teresa Phillips, director of athletics. “We take the academic progress of our student athletes very seriously and have implemented new processes and procedures for our coaches and students to address this issue and improve the overall administration of the football program. I am confident that these new measures will rectify the problem going forward.”
The sanctions against TSU are a result of the multiyear APR calculations—a four-year measurement covering the academic years 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14. The football team’s multiyear APR score was 915, falling short of the 920 benchmark set forth by the NCAA for limited resource institutions.
As a result, the football program will be subject to a Level I penalty. This penalty reduces the number of hours allowed for regular season athletic related activities—an amount that must be replaced with activities related to academics. Last fall, the TSU athletics department made serious and substantive modifications to the football program to address the APR score decline. Some of the measures include:
• Developing and submitting an improvement plan outlining future expectations
• Increasing academic support for student-athletes, including the proposed addition of an advisor specifically assigned to football
• Improving accommodations, support and access to student-athlete tutoring services
• Relocating to an upgraded facility that includes a larger computer lab, tutoring room and quiet study area
• Developing a new policy that requires increased study-hall hours for students with GPAs that are below standards
• Implementing a zero-tolerance policy for class and study hall absences
• Requiring head football coach and key assistants to attend the yearly NCAA Rules Seminar
TSU President Glenda Glover issued the following statement regarding the NCAA’s announcement citing the university.
“Educating and graduating our student athletes is a top priority for all our programs, including football,” said President Glenda Glover.
“It is clear we should have done a better job monitoring the academic progress of our football student-athletes. However, recent changes within our [football] program have already had a significant impact in achieving the success we expect in the classroom. We will strive to maintain that standard as we move forward. Winning on the field is important, but the most important thing to all of us is for our student-athletes to obtain their degrees.”
All intercollegiate sports programs at NCAA member institutions receive an APR score during the academic year. Scores are compiled based on points given for eligibility and retention for student-athletes that receive athletic scholarships and financial aid each semester. Teams lose points when a scholarship player is not academically eligible to play at the end of a semester or transfers without a minimum 2.6 GPA.