UNLV football garners postseason ban for low APR score

UNLV ended a 13-year bowl game drought with its New Year’s Day appearance in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

The Rebels will now have to wait at least another year to have a chance to play in another bowl game.

That’s because the school announced on Thursday that it has been banned from postseason play for the 2014 season due to a low Academic Rate Progress (APR) score. The school’s score of 925 was below the NCAA minimum of 930.

Programs must now record a four-year score of 930. Student-athletes are awarded a maximum of four points each year; one point each semester for enrolling and another point each for remaining eligible.

The score is then tabulated and weighted to a maximum score of 1,000. The previous standard required a score of 925, which is where the Rebels say their four-year total landed. The school had appealed to an NCAA subcommittee that budget cuts that forced the elimination of 700 faculty and staff positions had helped to contribute to the low score but was turned down.

“We understand the consequences and we are committed to correcting the situation,” UNLV President Don Snyder said. “As a university we succeed or fail as a team both academically and athletically. Clearly in this situation we did not succeed or meet all our obligations in that regard.”

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Snyder, UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy and head football coach Bobby Hauck met with the media to discuss the sanctions on Thursday afternoon. The NCAA will announce APR results for all schools in June.

Hauck said he informed his squad of the postseason ban at a team meeting on Thursday afternoon.

“Any time you have something taken away from you it’s disappointing,” Hauck said. “But we’ve got a good football team, we’ve got a united bunch of guys that care about each other … and we’re going to have a good fall next year.”

“Everyone was kind of depressed,” senior offensive tackle Brett Boyko said. “It was kind of like a kick in the groin. Ninty-six percent of the people in the room had nothing to do with it.”

Boyko, in fact, has already graduated with a degree in psychology.

UNLV became the first Mountain West football team to be penalized for missing APR standards. San Jose State announced on April 1 that its basketball team was also banned from for postseason play for the 2014-15 academic year including the 2015 Mountain West basketball tournament.

In an effort to improve its APR and avoid further NCAA sanctions in the future, the school announced it appointing an APR Committee that will monitor issues that may affect APR scores and also recommend strategies, policies and procedures to better manage and improve APR scores for all UNLV programs. That includes retaining the services of Forward Progress Athletics Consulting, a company that specializes in APR improvement.

Hauck, who received a three-year contract extension earlier this year that included a $200,000 per year pay raise, said a bigger problem was simply convincing senior players to stick around and earn their degrees.

“We’re having a hard time of getting our outgoing seniors to finish up,” Hauck said. “And the NCAA, in their infinite wisdom, has now taken away our lone hammer to get guys to at least finish the fall semester in good standing which is bowl game eligibility.”

Kunzer-Murphy defended the decision to give Hauck an extension despite the fact the school knew it was battling APR problems.

“The most important thing was to secure our coach,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “We all felt real strongly about it. The Board of Regents are up to speed on it. I’m sure we’ll be talking about that at the next Regents meeting. And I’m prepared to answer those questions to them. I believe in our coach. I believe we made the right decision and I’ll stand by it.”

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