APR issues means no NCAA Tournament hopes for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Thursday, January 17, 2013
1/17/13 at 4:45 AM
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (alias Oral Roberts' opponent in a Thursday road game) has a record of 2-12.
Usually, in this type of situation, a coach could keep hope alive in players' minds by talking about the light at the end of the tunnel. Get better. Catch fire at season's end. Maybe you can win the league tournament and earn an NCAA Tournament bid.
"That's not a carrot available to us," Texas A&M-Corpus Christi coach Willis Wilson said.
The Islanders have known since June they would not be making an NCAA Tournament trip in 2013. They fell below the APR (Academic Progress Rate) cut line and were banned from postseason play by the NCAA.
Wilson acknowledged during a Wednesday interview that the ban complicates the task of motivating his players.
"But I give our guys a lot of credit," he said. "They come to practice every day and the one thing that they have allowed us to do at this point is to coach them every day. It hasn't always been easy. But they have done a pretty good job of really just trying to buy in and rally around the things we think we need to do to get better."
ORU's Scott Sutton said he thinks it would be extremely difficult to coach a team knowing you had no shot at postseason.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is among nine men's basketball programs in that position this year thanks to low APR scores. Eligibility and retention are part of the equation.
Sutton said he thinks APR rules were put in place with good intentions. Holding programs accountable for academics sounds honorable.
"But I think there are a lot of problems with it, especially when coaches take over programs," he said.
"I know (ex-ORU coach) Barry (Hinson) is having to go through a little bit of it at Southern Illinois. You come in and you have got your hands tied with discipline problems. You can't get rid of kids that are problems to your program, and I'm not talking about not being good enough, but just (other) stuff."
Sutton suggested APR leniency for coaches who inherit programs.
Wilson is in his second year at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The season before his arrival, the Islanders had five seniors who were recruited by other head coaches. Four did not graduate. And, after Wilson was hired, he booted four players who weren't adhering to academic policies, according to the Corpus Christi Caller Times.
Other mitigating factors also came into play. And after the Islanders were initially told by the NCAA they would dodge a postseason ban, they got a verdict to the contrary.
Like Sutton, Wilson thinks the APR is well-intended, but he said there are too many moving parts. He said a problem with the APR is it doesn't always give the real back story on why kids leave and why coaches jettison players.
"You get penalized for bringing in good kids and letting the bad kids go," athletic director Scott Lazenby told the Caller Times in June. "You could have a kid who breaks laws, doesn't go to class and, if you keep him, you don't lose points."
Wilson said he doesn't have a player on his team who was responsible for creating the APR problem. In the aftermath, his team is forging ahead with one of the nation's youngest rosters. Average age of the senior-less Islanders: 20 years, 4 months, 15 days.
"We feel like we are going in the right direction," Wilson said, reciting scores of recent games to show his team has been competitive.
"My hope is our kids really see the value of giving great effort every day and working to improve in spite of the circumstances with no postseason and the fact that we will have our entire team back a year from now."
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi players know they are living on borrowed time this season. They will turn in their uniforms after a March 9 regular season finale against Stephen F. Austin. Because the Islanders are ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, they are prohibited from competing in the Southland Conference Tournament.
Original Print Headline: Playing with no tourney hopes
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389