Jackson State loses scholarships after NCAA report

By David Brandt/The Clarion-Ledger

JACKSON — Jackson State University’s football team felt the wrath of the NCAA on Tuesday after the program’s dismal showing in the Academic Progress Rate was released.

In one of its harshest decisions since the APR took effect in 2005, the NCAA ruled that JSU will lose 6.3 scholarships it can apply toward its team next season.

The APR is used to track academic achievement at Division I schools. Teams must score at least a 925 out of 1,000 points or face possible sanctions, including scholarship losses and postseason bans. It is updated based on a four-year rolling average and focuses on retaining athletes and keeping them academically eligible.

JSU’s football program scored an 872 — down from an 879 in the 2008-09 academic year. The Tigers also face practice reductions and were put on public notice.

Athletic director Bob Braddy, in a statement released by the university, said “We take the APR very seriously and will do all that is necessary to make sure our student-athletes meet national standards. We are providing financial aid to help student-athletes improve academically and to graduate.”

In the same statement, football coach Rick Comegy said, “We accept the decision made by the NCAA APR Committee and have already begun taking steps to upgrade our APR standards.”

JSU, which competes at the Football Championship Subdivision level, normally has 63 scholarships that it can divide among as many as 85 athletes. Up to 30 scholarships can be given each year.

The JSU men’s basketball team also was put on public notice after scoring an 881 but do not face any scholarship reductions.

No other state schools received penalties.

The University of Mississippi football program scored a 921, while the basketball program scored a 922. Even though those scores are slightly below the 925 limit, neither program faces sanctions because of significant improvement over the 2008-09 school year.

“I’m very pleased with the direction were headed academically,” Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone.

Ole Miss’ football program lost three scholarships last year after scoring a 910. Even though the Rebels’ score jumped to 921, it still ranks last in the Southeastern Conference.

All other 15 sports at Ole Miss finished significantly above the 925 mark. Women’s golf and volleyball scored a perfect 1,000.

Mississippi State University saw across-the-board improvement. For the first time since the multiyear numbers started being tracked, every MSU sport was over the important threshold of 925.

MSU’s football score improved to a 939. That’s up six points from a year ago, which was the first time State’s multiyear score was on the good side of 925. State’s men’s basketball score improved to 932, up from 913 a year earlier.

The University of Southern Mississippi scored a 938 in football and 890 in basketball. Though the basketball program’s score is well below the 925 threshold, it avoided penalty by performing much better than during the 2008-09 school year.

“We have got a plan to increase that, and we’re monitoring it,” USM athletic director Richard Giannini said. “The plan we have is acceptable to the NCAA so we have no sanctions or anything happening in the regard. We think that’s a positive.”