Delaware State men’s basketball team ineligible for 2021 MEAC tourney due to APR scores

DOVER — The Delaware State University men’s basketball will be ineligible to participate in the 2021 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament, the university announced on Thursday.

The one-year ban is part of punishment handed down because the program’s four-year Academic Progress Rate score has fallen below the national standard of 930. DSU is also required to reduce its 2020-2021 season schedule by three games.

The men’s basketball program and the football program both had their APR scores drop under 930. The university was required to submit Performance Improvement Plans to the NCAA in January of 2019.

Those plans called for the two programs to reduce practice and training time by 20 percent in order to refocus student-athlete’s efforts for academic enrichment and support, according to an email sent out by DSU athletic director Scott Gines.

Gines also stated these plans have been approved by the NCAA and, if the expectations are met, should help get the program’s APR over 930.

“Delaware State University intends to make every effort to hit these targets,” Gines said in the email. “While these penalties are not good news for our programs, we are highly committed to ensuring that our student-athletes have the right support to ensure their retention and academic success.”

APR scores are required to be reported by all Division I institutions to the NCAA. They measurse retention and academic performance.

The DelState men’s basketball team’s APR score went from 952 in 2016-2017 to 925 in 2017-2018, according to the NCAA’s database.

The Hornet football program’s score first dropped below 930 in the 2017-2018 academic year according to the database. It led to the reduction in practice time.

Both program’s first year under the 930 national standard came under the old DSU administration. Neither Gines, football coach Rod Milstead or men’s basketball coach Eric Skeeters were employed by Delaware State yet.

“Coaches Milstead and Skeeters, both of whom are still new to the University, are focused on building an accountable culture that demands excellence on and off the field or court,” Gines said in his email. “We thought it important to be candid, clear, and transparent. We will keep you apprised of our progress. In the meantime, remember who we are: an HBCU with 356 student-athletes in 16 intercollegiate sports across 18 championship seasons (12 women’s; six men’s). We should all be inordinately proud of these young people, not just in terms of their athletic performance, but also as scholars on the path to graduation.”

Delaware State joins Florida A&M as another MEAC school ineligible for postseason play due to APR sanctions. Florida A&M is currently under a five-year probation period by the NCAA because of low APR scores. The Rattlers will not participate at this year’s MEAC basketball tournaments and were ineligible to be selected to football’s Celebration Bowl this past season despite winning the MEAC regular season title