In 2002, Allen Iverson was known for his infamous “practice rant” when he stated in a press conference that practice was not needed to win. Not so, says Dr. Percy Caldwell.
The Grambling State University athletic director blames the men’s basketball team’s horrific 0-28 season on the limited amount of practice time.
The end of a frustrating season for the team was March 13 in Garland, Texas, at the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament. NCAA sanctions were placed on the team two years ago after performing academically below the Academic Progress Rate score of 930.
“Because of this, our team was set up to lose 27 games this season,” said Dr. Caldwell in an interview before the tourney.
“The APR score from the previous coaching staff and team was lower in 2011-12 than it was in 2010-11.”
The APR was established to achieve the NCAA goal to push more student-athletes to graduate with a degree and to become professionals outside of the sport.
The term-by-term metric point system helps the NCAA keep track of Division I universities’ eligibility and retention of each student-athlete who receive scholarships.
Each team receives one point for every student who is eligible per semester and another point for every student-athlete who returns per semester. However, if a student-athlete leaves to play in the professionals before graduating no points are taken away, but he or she must leave in good academic standing with the university.
“A lot of people think we suck, but do not know the history,” said Peter Roberson, the seven-foot center from Oklahoma when expressing his feelings. “There was a reduction of practice time and scholarship money. That is why there have been a lot of walk-ons, but without them we wouldn’t be a team.”
The NCAA’s website states the men’s basketball team is currently facing Level Three APR penalties, along with eight other teams: University of Connecticut, Texas Southern University,. All together, there are 35 teams that are currently facing penalties in Division I, including University of Connecticut, a well known basketball program. Penalties can consist of losing “four hours of practice time one day per week” and must be replaced with study hall.
According to NCAA representative Christopher Greene, “Level Three includes all Level One and Two penalties, plus a menu of potential additional penalties,” said Christopher Green in an email. “These can include financial aid reductions (from) additional practice and contest restrictions. Including game and recruiting restrictions.”
Since the NCAA strives for the best academic experience for all student-athletes, in 2011 the APR penalty structure was altered that includes the three levels of penalties. The strict academic standards, team would have to maintain a 930 APR in order to participate in the any postseason games.
“This is not a penalty-it’s our expectation,” said in an email by Mark Emmert, NCAA president. “Just as a team needs a winning record to make the playoffs or the tournament, they need a winning record in the classroom as well.”
After hearing the penalties that the men’s basketball received, some Tiger fans understood why the team performed so poorly this season. Sports fanatic, Isi Edah-DK feels that if the team received 20 regular hours of practice would of resulted in injuries.
“Someone once told me that the more you sweat and practice the less you bleed in battle,” said New Orleans native Edah-Dk, a senior kinesiology therapeutic recreation major. “Practice more… less sport injuries.”
Germaine Patterson, a basketball fanatic and GSU student, does not see restricted practice hours a reason for the winless season.
“That four hours shouldn’t even matter anyway,” Patterson said. “That doesn’t mean that they lose every single f******* game.”
Patterson feels that the real reason is from the lack of recruiting efforts and the fact that only five student scholarships were given both play a major factor. Although sophomore Sidney Moore agrees that better recruiting efforts could have been made, he explained how “practice makes perfect and perfecting your craft is key.”
In his second season has head coach, Joseph Price plans to recruit prospective athletes who have a passion for the game and will go the extra mile.
“It’s a situation that it is what it is and we’ll have to work the best way possible and strategize,” said Price
APR: Cause for concern
The Academic Progress Rate is a Division I metric developed to track the academic achievement of teams each academic term.
Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one retention point for staying in school and one eligibility point for being academically eligible.
A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by one 1000 to equal the team’s APR score.
Starting with 2012-2013 championships,teams are required to earn a 900 four-year APR in 2012-13 and 2013-14. The benchmark is raised to 930 for 2014-15 and beyond.
For 2014-15 championships, teams must earn a 930 four-year average APR or a 940 average over the most recent two years to participate in championships.
Lower resource institutions have until 2016 to meet the 930 APR benchmark.