Men's Track future still promising despite APR woes
Southern University is projecting a 923 single year Academic Progress Rate for the men's track and field program based on it 2012-13 student-athlete cohort.
The NCAA, which released its latest APR reports on Tuesday, is imposing a one-year post season ban as a result of the program’s sub-par academic progress over a four-year cohort of student-athletes who received athletic related aid.
Southern University athletics confirmed the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance denied a waiver filed requesting a relief from postseason ban for the men's indoor and outdoor track and field team while accepting the remaining restrictions associated with Level Three Academic Performance Program (APP) penalties.
In the waiver, details from the programs APR improvement plan cite several corrective actions that are presently in place to assist the programs APR scores.
Among the actions taken by the department include replacing the previous track and field staff in 2010, hiring an experienced compliance director and designating an academic liaison to monitor the programs academic progress.
Southern also underwent a change in the academic profile of the student the program recruited. All prospective student-athletes who are identified by the track program must possess a 2.5 GPA before recruitment process begins. Students who demonstrate exceptional academic profiles are also targeted due to their potential to earn academic scholarships from Southern, enabling the program to stretch its restricted athletic aid.
Academic services are integrated "to optimize a positive impact for student-athletes" once they arrived on campus.
Since the hiring of head track coach Brian Johnson, who was a former and Olympian and two-sport star at Southern, the program's single year APR has steadily improved.
For the 2009-10 cohort, the program's single year mark was 813 for indoor and 807 for outdoor. In 2010-11, Johnson's first year, the programs score improved to 855.
Despite a posting APR multiyear scores of 866 and 863 for the 2011-12 year, Southern's men's indoor and outdoor track each increased its single year APR score for the second consecutive year from 855 to 889.
"Brian Johnson and his staff are winning the right way," said SU Athletics Director Dr. William Broussard. "The post-season ban is a setback, but only a temporary one. We have an excellent team and a solid incoming class that will use this year to grow and prepare to make big waves in 2014-15."
Athletically, men's track is trending upward largely due to a strong 2013 campaign.
Eight medals were awarded to the Jaguars during the 2013 SWAC Outdoor Championship with D’Wayne Houston, a Northside High product and Lafayette native, leading the charge with gold in the hammer throw (50.45m) and shot put (15.86m) while adding a third place finish in Discus (46.14m). Houston’s stellar performance earned the title of 2013 Top Male Field Performer
Sprinter Devin Jenkins Jenkins, a freshman from Kapolei High School located on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, raced to an exhilarating first place finish in both the 100 meters (10.38) and 200 meters (22.11) at the Louisiana Classics Track Meet hosted by Louisiana-Lafayette in March.
Houston and Jenkins each qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Track and Field Regional held in Greensboro, N.C. Houston, who also earned the Southwestern Athletic Conference men's indoor Most Outstanding Field performer award in 2013, qualified for the men's shot put with a distance of 17.80 meters. Jenkins qualified to compete in the men's 100 and 200 meter dash after running 10.38 and 20.92 respectively at the Georgia Tech Invitational last weekend.
In 2014, Southern is slated to make compete at several regionally and nationally high profile track meets including the Texas Relays, Florida Relays, and ULL Relays.