By Felix Cunningham
Southern University fans have another reason to fill stadium seats and cheer for their home team this upcoming season.
Earlier this spring, all nine sports under the athletic program were reinstated into NCAA postseason play starting this fall after 18 months of punishment set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
The punishment was carved when the Southern University athletic department sent unusable data from inaccurate student-athlete Academic Progress Rates to the NCAA in December 2013 under Athletic Director William Broussard.
In his newfound position, interim Athletic Director Roman Banks became the necessary tool to rid Southern of the pesky postseason ban.
This was a close call for Southern because, for more than a year, every Jaguar athletic team entered into the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament knowing further postseason advancement was not a possibility. The only Southern University team to win a SWAC Championship this year was the women’s tennis team, but their push into NCAA postseason play was halted by the ban.
“It was very unfortunate for these things to happen, but I’m glad we are able to move on from it and do well on the court and continue to strive for proud results in the classroom,” Southern women’s tennis head coach Jeff Conyers said.
Elated by the news of the ban-lift, interim Athletic Director and head men’s basketball coach, Roman Banks said, “The students and coaches are very proud of the actions that transpired here today and wish to show that Southern can compete.”
The NCAA mandates that schools document students in their prospective athletic programs are making necessary advances towards an academic future. During a random audit of Southern University athletics in the 2013-2014 year the NCAA found flaws from the previous years of submissions.
Since discovering these mistakes, the Southern University athletic department has adapted its systems to prevent future mishaps.
Banks stated that Southern was under a thin “microscope” due to its faults in the past. The NCAA has not let Southern University out of its sights just yet.
“I will not say that we are out of the bush yet,” Banks said, “We have to continue to work hard and for each sport to achieve their APR standards. Now we do not have to worry because we are on an equal playing field.”
Besides Banks, Jaguar baseball head coach Roger Cador was relieved to hear the news that Southern University athletics could return to NCAA postseason play.
“It’s a breath of fresh air to know that the kids are now eligible for postseason play,” Cador said. “Going forward I believe the teams are more than capable than holding their own out there on the field.
“I give my condolences to the kids that had to endure this hardship. Especially the kids that were ready for postseason play, but we have to keep our heads up because we aren’t the first nor the last to endure this.”
Now that Southern University has gotten beyond that arc, Jaguar athletic teams can battle for a spot in NCAA postseason play, combat to win titles greater than conference championships and make it back into the collegiate huddle.