Josh Freelove, Lewis Jackson

Alabama State’s postseason ban rescinded by NCAA

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Earlier this spring it was announced by the NCAA that Alabama State was one of six men’s basketball programs to be banned from postseason play in 2013-14 due to low Academic Progress Rate (APR) numbers.

On Friday, Alabama State announced that after the NCAA’s evaluation of additional data submitted by the athletic department the Hornets are no longer subject to that ban. Alabama State also received the good news regarding its football, baseball and volleyball programs.

“Once the NCAA evaluated that additional academic performance data, assessed our ASU Academic Improvement Plan and reviewed us according to its Limited Resource Institution component, the NCAA staff determined that ASU will not be penalized,” Alabama State interim athletic director Melvin Hines said in the statement released by the school.

One of the points of contention with the new APR guidelines in recent years has been the fact that schools without the resources needed to make sure their student-athletes remain on track academically are the ones most often penalized. Taking into consideration that lack of resources is the right thing to do when the NCAA looks at cases such as Alabama State’s.

Lewis Jackson’s Hornets finished the 2012-13 season with a 10-22 record, finishing SWAC play with an 8-10 league record. Next year’s team has just one senior on the roster (guard Denzel McDaniel), and the Hornets will also have to account for the departures of leading scorers Josh Freelove (13.3 ppg) and Phillip Crawford (13.2, 6.1 rpg).

But even with the heavy personnel changes (Alabama State adds five newcomers, with four being junior college transfers) at the very least the Hornets know that they’ll be able to compete for the SWAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Sun Belt approves new scheduling format

Sun Belt Conference
Sun Belt Conference
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With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.

And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.

Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.

Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.

Former Wichita State assistant returns as a consultant

Chris Jans, Gregg Marshall
Associated Press
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Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.

Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.

“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”

While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.