ASU responds in typical ASU fashion

There’s no telling how long it would have taken for Alabama State University officials to respond to the news that two of its programs had their postseason bans lifted by the NCAA had it not been for questions from the Advertiser.

The university received the news late last week. Volleyball and baseball no longer face postseason restrictions as a result of Academic Progress Rate penalties imposed by the NCAA. Great news, right?

Maybe not, according to ASU officials, who elected to hold on to the information and not tell anyone (except for the coaches, of course).

Is this 2013? The era of social media and “instant” news? Apparently not to ASU administrators, who took the opportunity to offer good news to their fans and turned it on its head, stumbling through a press release with as little information as possible, showing an inept ability to manage either the process of getting out the news or putting a positive spin on what had previously been negative news.

It makes you wonder how long good coaches like baseball’s Mervyl Melendez or volleyball’s Penny Lucas-White will stay at a university that doesn’t seem to understand how to promote their sports. While the rest of the world continues to evolve toward better methods at marketing their products, services, etc., Alabama State officials continue to live in an outdated world. While the NCAA continues to hammer away at their failing APR scores every year, they continue to process the information the same way, demonstrating year after year after frustrating year a failure to follow the rules that most every other institution follows.

And this is a school that wants to move up to Football Bowl Subdivision in football? What conference would want them? Beyond the normal problems associated with a small group of donors (which, in the eyes of prospective conference officials, would fail to provide revenue to that conference) or small attendance at games (which hinders a conference that must meet minimum attendance requirements), ASU has repeatedly failed to achieve the minimum APR score of 900, which in two years rises to 930.

“The Alabama State University women’s volleyball and baseball teams have been cleared to participate in postseason competition in the upcoming 2013-14 season,” a Wednesday release finally noted. “The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) informed ASU of its decision, which will allow the women’s volleyball and baseball teams to be eligible to qualify for, and compete in, Southwestern Athletic Conference championship tournaments, and subsequent NCAA Tournament play if postseason bids are won.”

That’s the release? What about the other penalties imposed by the NCAA which restricted practice time? If those penalties remain in place and ASU fails to achieve 900 next year, the school is subject to stiffer penalties. Or do we just pretend that’s not a problem since the school continues to struggle to reach minimum requirements in several sports.

“We believe this decision is evidence of progress, showing that changes we have implemented, both in programs and personnel, are providing positive measureable results,” ASU interim president William H. Harris said in a craftily prepared statement that took several hours to manufacture. “We are pleased and appreciative of the decision rendered by the NCAA in regards to our women’s volleyball and baseball programs regaining their postseason eligibility. We will continue our commitment to ensure all athletic programs meet and exceed established standards, and remain optimistic for favorable outcomes for our football and men’s basketball programs.”

Really? That’s the statement? No word from the coaches about how happy they are they can compete in the postseason, which is what they were hired to do, no reference by those coaches that the stigma of penalties is erased, allowing them to recruit student-athletes who would like the opportunity to play for a championship?

What methods were taken in the appeal to eradicate the postseason ban? What did ASU officials learn between the filing of the original information and the filing of the appeal that allowed them to reverse the ruling? Does that give them renewed hope they can get football off the hook? Or men’s basketball?

Who knows? At ASU, silence is golden. With Faulkner advancing to five NAIA national tournaments in 10 sports and AUM on the verge of possibly moving up to Division II, it appears that a student-athlete from the River Region looking for a progressive university has several options that are more appealing than ASU. And until ASU learns how to operate in the 21st Century, it will continue to be that way.


About tgayle

Tim Gayle is a sports reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper and
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