Men's basketball APR on the rise

March 2, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Despite the low score in the release by the NCAA of the Academic Progress Rate (APR), the Jacksonville University men's basketball team's score is rising.

The APR measures keeping student-athletes academically eligible and their retention by the school. The Dolphins two-year APR rate is higher than it was in the first release a year ago.

With the anticipation that the APR score would be less than the NCAA threshold of 925, Jacksonville absorbed a two scholarship penalty during this recently completed season.

"While we're not happy with being penalized, we are glad to have taken care of this situation early and put it behind us," said JU athletics director Alan Verlander. "We're looking ahead, not back, and now we can continue the progress that we made this past year in the classroom as well as retaining our student-athletes."

With the arrival of head coach Cliff Warren, the Jacksonville men's basketball program has been held up to rigorous academic standards that reaped rewards immediately. The Dolphins had seven players named to the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Academic team this past season.

Part of the new academic standards for the team was the implementation of mandatory study halls, having an academic coach who meets with the student-athletes on a weekly basis.

The creation of the director of student-athlete development, Erin Giesa, as well as academic advisor Joanne Clifford, have played a key role in their open dialogue with the teachers to bridge the gap with the coaching staff.

"Our players' first priority is to get their degree," Warren said. "I would be doing them a disservice if I didn't do everything in my power to help them get their education. To our program, this penalty is all water under the bridge now because we took a penalty for matters out of our control. The focus of our coaching staff now is on the future and to recruit quality student-athletes who are committed to getting their education."

In addition to the two scholarship penalty, Warren lost David Lee and Haminn Quaintance prior to the beginning of this recently completed season (Lee after exhausting his eligibility and not being granted a fifth year from the NCAA; Quaintance transferring to Kent State). The penalty then had a greater impact as Warren was left with only eight scholarship players.

To fill out his roster, Warren was forced to use five walk-ons with no collegiate experience that played major minutes throughout the season.