Proactive UTM served penalties

Proactive UTM served penalties
The UT Martin basketball programs chose to be proactive rather than reactive.
Both the Skyhawk men and women’s teams played with one less scholarship player last fall in anticipation of lower-than-permitted NCAA Academic Progress Rates.
“When there’s coaching turnover, an APR score sometimes will fall,” UTM athletic director Phil Dane said. “Anytime there’s a coaching change, you will have student-athletes that leave for numerous reasons and that’s what I see is the case for both of these programs.”
Both UTM programs hired new skippers two seasons ago.
The APR is measured on a four-year average with a score of 925 or better deemed as passing. Penalties are issued for teams that perform under that benchmark.
The UTM women’s team had an APR of 914, while the men’s squad was just under the accepted mark with a 923.
The numbers were based upon academic numbers collected from the 2006-07 campaign through the 2009-10 season.
“It was something we thought was coming and we didn’t want to be blindsided by it,” said Skyhawk men’s coach Jason James, who will begin his third season at the helm in the fall. “Instead of waiting, we decided to step forward and hold a scholarship back, so we could put it past us.”
The lower-than-accepted APR number was no surprise to James, who noted a few players had left the UTM program over the four-year period.
A school is not penalized if said player goes to any other four-year institution. That wasn’t the case for some of the former Skyhawks, who essentially just dropped out of school.
“We’re stressing the importance of academics and have since Day 1,” James said. “They don’t just show up and get on the floor. We are in constant contact with the players’ academic advisors and professors, making sure that they’re showing up for class and turning in assignments.
“We take academics seriously and our players do, as well.”
In regard to the penalty, James said his UT Martin squad played with only 12 scholarship student-athletes in the fall.
Likewise, the Skyhawk women took their hit during the 2010-11 campaign.
UTM women’s skipper Kevin McMillan, whose program did a similar thing for the 2009-10 season when it was penalized two scholarships for an APR of 922 at that time, admitted the possibility for such a thing happening again in the future existed.
“We’ve still got a couple years before my time here that we need to get off the books,” said McMillan, who will also start his third season in the fall. “I think the ladies we have on scholarship now may hit a perfect 1,000, but we have to four solid years of academic progress.
“We’ve got two seasons that might be in the 800s that are still going to count when this comes out next year.”
Every student-athlete counts as two points in the APR.
One of those points is for remaining academically eligible and the other is for staying with said school.
The 925 mark means a team earned 92.5 percent of its possible points.
In other APR news, both the UT Martin women’s tennis team and the Skyhawk men’s golf squad had a perfect single-season score of 1,000 for the 2009-10 campaign.
On the four-year stretch, the UTM tennis team scored a 982, while the golf team totaled a 980.
Other four-year scores in terms of APR at UT Martin were as follows: baseball (936), volleyball (989), women’s soccer (933), softball (966), men’s cross country (964), football (930), mixed rifle (968) and women’s cross country (957).
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker @ucmessenger.com.

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