Academic issues affect Vikings

Two of Portland State’s athletic teams are facing NCAA discipline after scoring less than 925 during a nationwide multi-season review of the academic success of their student-athletes.

Two of Portland State’s athletic teams are facing NCAA discipline after scoring less than 925 during a nationwide multi-season review of the academic success of their student-athletes.

The NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate system assigns points to each player on a team, with each player able to earn one point for maintaining good academic standing and one point for remaining at the school being rated. The team’s points are then divided by the points possible to determine the APR, and NCAA regulations stipulate that any score below 925 can lead to the loss of scholarships.

The Portland State men’s basketball squad earned an APR of 865 over four years, from 2005–09, resulting in a ban from postseason play and two scholarships being rescinded. Athletics Director Torre Chisholm said the men’s basketball team usually offers 13 scholarships but can only offer 11 this season.

Head coach Tyler Geving said this doesn’t affect any current players on the team, though it does impact how they can recruit for future candidates. Geving said he’s hopeful that the Vikings can recruit quality walk-ons while they’re down two scholarships.

Regardless of how Geving’s squad performs this year, the Vikings are ineligible to participate in the NCAA postseason tournament. The Vikings earned two consecutive trips as Big Sky Conference Champions in 2008 and 2009, and though they did not repeat in 2010, they cannot go to the Big Dance this season, even if they top the Big Sky.

“I think [the penalties] are a bit harsh, and those numbers don’t take into account the most recent results, the numbers that won’t affect the team until next year,” Geving said. He added that the team returned a perfect 1,000 last year, and that he anticipates similarly high scores from the team during the coming season.

Geving said the team has focused a lot of effort on how its players perform academically, including making use of tutors and encouraging student-athletes to access on-campus resources such as the Writing Center. He also said it’s frustrating for current players to be penalized for a situation they did nothing to create.

Chisholm said his department has added two academic advisors for all programs to address the APR issue. He also said the number of men’s basketball players in summer courses has increased this term as well.

“I know it looks like—from the outside—something we need to fix, but we’re already doing better and we are doing some really good things for our players,” Geving said. “We’ve been making a lot of progress, putting an effort into it.”

“The big-picture story is more than just the penalty,” Chisholm said. “One story is us being in the penalty, but there’s more to it. We’ve put a lot of things in place, and there are a lot of athletes getting it done academically. Unfortunately, some guys are coming back into the penalty for next year, but they’re averaging high [on the APR].”

Geving said regardless of the NCAA penalty, he expects a strong team this year with members that work just as hard as they would with the additional scholarships and the possibility of an NCAA tournament berth.

“We’re not going to use this as an excuse to not show up,” Geving said. “We’re still going to compete every time, and our goal is to make sure our guys are winning on the court and in the class.”

The football team was also docked two scholarships for registering an APR of 907 last season. Chisholm said he anticipates a higher score for next year, adding that the football squad hasn’t historically had problems with the APR system.

“Overall, this was one disappointing aspect of what was otherwise a very good year for athletics,” Chisholm said.