SFA placed on NCAA probation, set to cancel victories in four sports

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The athletics department of Stephen F. Austin State University was placed on probation on Wednesday for three years by the NCAA following a six-year hiatus from academic certification procedures.

The school is also set to reverse dozens of wins in four sports, including one NCAA tournament win, while facing fines, scholarship cuts and forfeiture of the conference championships.

The announcement of NCAA probation came a day after announcing that three Lumberjacks programs would not be eligible for play-offs in the next two years due to gaps in the school’s academic progress reporting rate linked to errors in academic certification.

Ryan Ivey, the school’s sporting director, said the certification errors date back to 2013 and were discovered last spring after the departure of two associate sporting directors who were responsible for compliance with the rules and academics.

Administrators erred in counting all semester credit hours to determine academic eligibility instead of counting only the credit hours that led to a degree, said Ivey.

The errors affected the academic certification of 82 athletes in football, men’s basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball, women’s golf, men’s and women’s athletics, and men’s cross-country.

When the errors were found and corrected, the SFA APR scores went down to the point that the school this week learned that it would not be eligible for this year’s football and baseball playoff games and for the season 2021-2022 in men’s basketball.

“It’s not fair to our current student-athletes, it’s not fair to our (current) coaches,” Ivey said in a conference call. “But this is the reality of the situation and the system in which we are.

“As an institution, we rise together and we fall together, and for us who are currently here, we have to manage and navigate.”

Even though the administrators who chaired the errors are no longer in the sports department – one retired and one transferred to another position on campus – Ivey said the SFA “cannot dispute what happened happened here. It’s in black and white. … We cannot dispute these facts. “

The Southland Conference member Nacogdoches School negotiated sanctions with the NCAA and avoided harsher sanctions that could have resulted from a thorough NCAA investigation.

Sanctions included probation, reprimand and public censorship, fines and penalties totaling $ 94,207, including half the school’s payment for its participation in the 2016 NCAA tournament, and the cancellation of 29 wins in football, 117 victories in men’s basketball and several dozen victories in baseball and softball.

The SFA will also lose the Southland conference titles in men’s basketball in 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2017-18 and the Lumberjacks’ first round victory in the 2016 NCAA tournament against West Virginia.

He will also face a 2.5% reduction in football scholarship funds for 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, a 5% reduction in baseball scholarships for one of the next two seasons and the loss of a men’s basketball purse.

However, Ivey noted that the Lumberjacks 85-83 victory over Duke last November will not be canceled.

“Duke’s victory still counts,” he said. “I want everyone to understand this from the start.”

Ivey said the school has petitioned the NCAA to allow it to serve its one-year basketball playoff suspension in 2021-2022 rather than this year, as the team has several juniors who are believed to have could have been transferred if the sanction had been imposed for 2020-2021, which could have compromised their chances of finishing their studies.

“It had never been done from an NCAA point of view,” he said.

Ivey said current staff in the athletics department have overhauled their certification process and that the school will hire a certification officer who does not work in the athletics department.

“We have worked very hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

He said that SFA student-athletes had an average of 3.21 this year and have won four Southland Conference championships.

Regarding the canceled victories and the removal of the school’s Johnson Coliseum championship banners, Ivey said, “Although these victories can be canceled on paper, they are not being cast in our hearts. “


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