Stephen F. Austin State University’s athletics department was placed on probation three years on Wednesday by the NCAA after six years of failure in academic certification procedures.
Schools also had to clear dozens of wins in four sports, including the NCAA Tournament victory, while facing fines, reduced scholarships and confiscation of the championship conference.
The announcement of the NCAA probation period came a day after it was announced that the three Lumberjacks programs would not be eligible for playoff appearances over the next two years due to deficiencies in the school’s Academic Progress Reports associated with academic certification errors.
Ryan Ivey, the school’s athletic director, said the certification error dates back to 2013 and was discovered last spring after the departure of two fellow athletic directors responsible for regulatory and academic compliance.
Administrators mistakenly counted all semester credit hours to determine academic eligibility instead of just counting credit hours leading to the degree, Ivey said.
The error affected the academic certification of 82 athletes in soccer, men’s basketball, baseball, volleyball, soft ball, women’s golf, men’s and women’s track & field and men’s cross-country.
When mistakes are discovered and corrected, the SFA APR score drops to the point that this week’s school learns that it will not be eligible to play this year’s postseason in soccer and baseball and for the 2021-22 season in men’s basketball.
“It’s not fair for our current athlete-students, it’s not fair for our current coach,” Ivey said in a conference call. “But this is the reality of the situation and system where we are.
“As an institution, we rise together and fall together, and for those of us who are currently here, we must manage it and direct it.”
Although the administrator who led the mistake was no longer with the athletics department – one retired and the other was moved to another campus position – Ivey said the SFA “cannot dispute what happened here. This is black and white. … We cannot dispute these facts. “
Schools at Nacogdoches, members of the Southland Conference, negotiate penalties with the NCAA and avoid the heavier sanctions that can result from a thorough NCAA investigation.
Penalties include probation, public reprimand and condemnation, fines and penalties totaling $ 94,207, including half of school fees for participating in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, and emptying 29 soccer wins, 117 men’s basketball wins and several dozen baseball and softball wins.
The SFA will also lose the Southland Conference title in men’s basketball in 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2017-18 and the Lumberjacks first round victory at the 2016 NCAA Tournament against West Virginia.
It will also face a 2.5 percent reduction in football scholarship funds for 2020-21 and 2021-22, a 5 percent baseball scholarship cut for one of the next two seasons and a loss of one men’s basketball scholarship.
However, Ivey noted that Lumberjacks’s 85-83 victory over Duke last November would not be left blank.
“Duke’s victory still counts,” he said. “I want everyone to understand that in advance.”
Ivey said the school petitioned the NCAA to allow him to serve a one-year ban after the basketball match in 2021-22 than this year because the team had several juniors who might have been transferred if the sentence had been handed down for 2020-21, which might have jeopardized their chances of graduated from school.
“That has never been done from the NCAA’s perspective,” he said.
Ivey said the athletics department staff had now changed the certification process and that the school would hire a certification officer who did not work in the athletics department.
“We have made many efforts to ensure this does not happen again,” he said.
He said SFA student athletes had averaged 3.21 points this year and won four Southland Conference championships.
Regarding the victories that were emptied and the removal of the championship banners from the Johnson Coliseum school, Ivey said, “Although the victories can be emptied on paper, they are not emptied in our hearts.”
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