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Tigers ineligible for CAA Tourny

The men’s basketball team will be ineligible for the 2012-2013 Colonial Athletic Association tournament after the team’s academic progress rate didn’t meet the new NCAA standards.

In addition to the Tigers, UNC-Wilmington was also declared ineligible for the CAA tournament for low APR scores.

Towson Director of Athletics Mike Waddell said that he knew that the program would suffer some penalty when he took over the position October 2010.

“The last four years of our previous administration and our previous coaching staff, Towson University didn’t answer the bell when it came to making sure we were doing things right on and off the court,” he said. “When you don’t pay attention to details, you don’t succeed in the classroom and you don’t succeed in sports.”

Since Men’s Basketball Head Coach Pat Skerry has been at Towson, the team recorded a grade point average of 2.8, a GPA higher than previous years, and the highest APR the school has had in its history, according to Waddell.

“The current crop of student athletes are having to pay the price for the misdeeds of the previous student athletes who went to school here and didn’t graduate, and the previous coaching staff didn’t hold them accountable, and that’s OK,” Waddell said. “That’s how the rule is. Our rules are governed by the NCAA rules, and our job is not to look in the rearview mirror and curse the darkness, but turn on the light.”

Skerry said he was disappointed to hear the news, especially after the team had done so well academically during the 2011-2012 school year.

“Obviously we had a tremendous year academically,” he said. “Our GPA and our APR scores were both extremely high this year which is a credit to our kids, our academic staff, coaches and administrative staff.”

He also said that he doesn’t like the rule and thinks that his players should be able to play in the tournament, especially since the rule was introduced so late in the season.

“They didn’t implement this rule, the post-season ban until, halfway through the season,” he said. “I certainly believe that every team should be in the conference tournament. If this is really to benefit the student athletes, I think we need to take a long look in the mirror. Especially with the Towson and Wilmington kids, they should be able to play for the Championship. But clearly it’s about a potential financial loss, so that’s pretty obvious.”

Despite the team’s ineligibility to compete in the CAA Tournament, Skerry said that it will not change the team’s overall game plan.

“Our goal is to win every game,” he said. “I wasn’t hired and I don’t coach to only win 20 games, or 10 games, or 30. I want to win all the games on the schedule. So we prepare the same way every day.”

As of the 2011-12 academic year, Towson Athletics has also implemented what Waddell called “the toughest class attendance policy for all of our student athletes of anybody in the nation.”

“We’re doing things the right way, we’ve invested in new academic support mechanisms, new staff, new policies have been put into place, and our goal is to continue to move forward, but this is not going to be an immediate turnaround because of how the NCAA tabulates their data,” he said. “Our goal will be to continue to improve our APR score for next year. Our goal is to be a perfect 1,000.”

Both Waddell and Skerry denied that the Tigers’ ineligibility this season would have a negative impact on recruiting and that Towson is looking to recruit the right type of athletes.

“We’re very focused on recruiting the right kind of kids with strong academic backgrounds who have prepared to succeed academically and athletically at Towson University,” Waddell said. “In the end, this is a bump in the road. It’s something that we didn’t make this mess, but we’re here to clean it up, and Coach Skerry and his coaching staff and the administrators behind that group are certainly focused on the future.”

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