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Alcorn State will not face penalties

LORMAN — The Alcorn State athletic program will not face any penalties after performing well in the NCAA’s latest academic progress ratings.

The APR is a measure used to track academic progress at Division I schools. Teams must score at least a 925 out of a possible 1,000 points or face possible sanctions, including scholarship losses and postseason bans.

It is updated based on a four-year rolling average and focuses on retaining athletes and keeping them academically eligible.

Thirteen of Alcorn’s 17 sports scored at or above the 925 threshold, with the women’s golf team garnering a perfect score of 1,000.

The four sports that scored below 925 were baseball (901), football (906), women’s basketball (906) and women’s cross country (919).

However, none of those sports will face any penalties because the team is scoring better than the institution’s general student body, or based on institutional, athletics and student resources, according to the NCAA.

The football and baseball programs did show significant improvement in the last year.

When factoring in only the 2008-2009 school year, football scored 930 and baseball scored 981.

Alcorn baseball coach Barret Rey said one of his main goals is to help his players reach their academic potential.

“First and foremost, they are students before athletes,” Rey said. “My main goal as a coach is to graduate the kids. I never let a practice or a game interfere with a kids’ class.”

Rey said Alcorn offers help to athletes who might be struggling academically.

“We do study hall and we’ve got available tutoring that I make mandatory for all kids if their grade point average is below 2.5,” Rey said. “The main thing is just checking to make sure they go to class. Wake them up in the morning and make sure they get to class.”

Making sure players attend class is also a big part of Alcorn football coach Earnest Collins’ job.

“We have a class check system we have, that if a young man falls below a 2.5 grade point average, he has to take a sheet to class every day and have the professor sign it,” Collins said. “That way I can make sure he is going to class. That’s half the battle.”

Collins said he preaches academics before athletics to all of his players.

“I tell my kids when they first come to the university that the No. 1 goal is for them to walk out of Alcorn State with a diploma in their hand,” Collins said. “If they follow the plan we have, they’ll graduate in three-and-a-half years. Their academics is very important to me.”

Collins said his goal is to have his football players have a cumulative grade point average of 2.8. Right now, the average is 2.6.

“We require that all incoming freshmen have at least eight hours of study hall per week,” Collins said. “We’re working our way up to a 2.8 GPA.”

The Alcorn State athletic programs that scored at or above 925 were men’s basketball (940), men’s cross country (926), men’s golf (971), men’s tennis (989), men’s indoor track (959), men’s outdoor track (952), softball (964), women’s soccer (934), women’s tennis (957), women’s indoor track (953), women’s outdoor track (925) and women’s volleyball (931).

Alcorn State athletic director Brenda Square was out of the office and could not be reached for comment.

Alcorn State fared much better than its rival Jackson State in the APR ratings.

Jackson State will lose 6.3 football scholarships for next year’s class after the football program scored just 872 on the APR.

The Jackson State men’s basketball program scored 881 and was put on public notice, but will not face any scholarship reductions.

No other state schools suffered any penalties.

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