MONROE, La. - The National Collegiate Athletic Association has approved a waiver submitted by the University of Louisiana at Monroe to reinstate eligibility for participation in postseason competition of men's basketball for the 2012-13 season, while the full allotment of scholarships has also been restored, the ULM athletic department announced.
"We are extremely proud of our student-athletes and their performance in the classroom," Director of Athletics Bobby Staub said. "It's been a true team approach from President Nick Bruno and the President's Athletics Task Force (PATF) down to our coaches, faculty, academic staff and, of course, our student-athletes. While we still have some strides to make, we are definitely headed in the right direction."
The current restriction from postseason competition and reduction
in available scholarships came as a result of a multi-year score by men's
basketball of less than 900 in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR), which
measures athletic academic eligibility and retention. The university addressed
several issues contributing to the restrictions when first notified of the
NCAA's ruling and included two outside reviews of academic structure and
Academic improvements during the current academic year, the school's meeting the conditions it set forth during the historical penalty review last year and the men's basketball team not being eligible for postseason competition during the 2011-12 season all contributed to the approval of the waiver. In its approval, the NCAA specifically cited ULM's recently revised academic improvement plan and successful implementation of the plan. ULM's waiver to the NCAA includes limited practice and competition periods and academic support initiatives to offset the lessened time on the court.
"This is great news for our program," men's basketball Head Coach Keith Richard said. "Our players have really stepped up and are making significant progress academically."
According to the NCAA's most recent federal graduation rate report, ULM boasted the highest single-year rate of any university in the state of Louisiana. Additionally, ULM's 66 percent graduation rate was the third highest among the 12 members of the Sun Belt Conference. Marked improvements in academic performance across the board for ULM's student-athletes have been recorded, and those marks will continue to be monitored by the PATF.
"The willingness of the PATF to take an honest look at the causes of APR point loss and work toward aggressive corrective action is demonstrated in the improvement plan in place and validated by the response from the NCAA," Faculty Athletics Representative and chairman of the PATF Brett Bennett said.
An initiative under President Bruno, the PATF assisted in developing and oversees the academic improvement plan in place. The PATF also added measures that look at academic progress throughout the semester to identify student-athletes who may be in danger of academic risk.