By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State’s APR numbers are strong across the board, but Scott Stricklin will be keeping a close eye on the men’s basketball team.
The NCAA released its annual Academic Progress Rate report on Wednesday, and MSU finished with a four-year score of 930 or better in all 16 sports. The minimum requirement is 900, and scores below that can result in penalties, including a ban from postseason play.
That minimum requirement will go up to 930 in a few years. Men’s basketball had a multi-year score of 965, and the score for the 2010-11 academic year was 944. There could be issues in the future, however.
Attrition has been a problem for MSU this past year. Two members of the 2011 signing class – D.J. Gardner and Shawn Long – left school without ever playing for MSU. Two other signees – Rodney Hood and DeVille Smith – transferred after the season.
That will affect the 2011-12 APR score.
“When you have the kind of roster turnover we’ve had the last year or so, it’s a concern,” Stricklin said. “I feel like we have a plan to minimize it and make sure we keep our four-year rate above the 930.”
What kind of measures can MSU take?
“You’ve just got to make sure you recruit young people who have the ability to be successful academically and also are committed to the program,” Stricklin said.
MSU’s roster turnover was due in part to a coaching change. Rick Stansbury retired after 14 years at the helm, and Rick Ray took over. Hood left a month after Ray was hired.
State has signed seven players in its 2012 class, and the ability to retain and graduate them will determine whether the APR score stays above the threshold.
Stricklin held up the football team as a shining example of APR success. Dan Mullen’s team has a multi-year score of 959, including a 972 for 2010-11. He’s led the Bulldogs to two consecutive winning seasons.
The basketball team is coming off a disappointing year in which it lost in the first round of the NIT.
“Usually there’s a correlation,” Stricklin said, “if a team is performing the way they should academically, they tend to take care of business on the court and in other parts of life as well.”