UL decides Lee AND Rogers will stay put in '09
UL knew they had a tough choice on their hands when the mens and womens basketball seasons ended prematurely. Do we keep our coaches, or cut them loose?
The university has decided Robert Lee and Errol Rogers deserve to keep their jobs...for now. Below is the statement released by UL regarding its decision to retain mens and womens head basketball coaches, Robert Lee and Errol Rogers:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2009
CAJUNS BASKETBALL MOVING FORWARD
The University of Louisiana Athletic Department announced on Friday that head men’s basketball coach Robert
Lee and head women’s basketball coach Errol Rogers will both return for the 2009-2010 basketball season.
“The process to evaluate our basketball programs has been a time consuming and complicated one,” Athletic
Director David Walker said. “To fully evaluate our programs and determine the best direction for the future, we had to consider the results on the court in addition to our academic status off the court. Both present very unique and difficult challenges.”
In 2003, the NCAA began the Academic Performance Program which established standards all student-athletes
must meet to achieve eligibility. Teams are then assigned a score (APR Score) based on the student-athlete eligibility and their retention in the program. Teams that score below the established standards face a wide variety of penalties. Because of academic problems early in the program, the men’s basketball team has been penalized by a reduction in scholarships and a reduction in the hours of practice time they are allowed each week. Since the APR score is based on performance over a multi-year period, the basketball program remains in the ‘historical penalty phase’ of the NCAA’s structure.
“As a result of Coach Lee’s efforts and the commitment made by our student-athletes, we have been able to
obtain perfect APR scores during the past two years,” Walker stated. “However, because we are still in the historical penalty phase, we still face very severe penalties if our scores in basketball do not meet the NCAA standards.
Additionally, these penalties will be imposed on all of our athletic teams.” One of the most significant penalties is the NCAA ban on post-season play if a team does not improve its APR scores. “If we do not meet acceptable standards in men’s basketball during the 2009-2010 academic year, then all of our teams will face a ban on post-season play, not just basketball,” Walker explained. “To make a decision on who should lead our program, and not seriously consider the potential impact, would be irresponsible and totally unfair to the coaches and student-athletes in our other sports.
“No one understands the current academic requirements and the individual status of each of our basketball
players better than Coach Lee,” Walker said. “I am confident that he is the right person to lead our basketball program through these difficult times. I believe he can continue to improve our academic status so that we may move out of the historical penalty phase at the end of the next academic year. I am also confident he can achieve the success we expect on the court.”
The team also faced a reduction in scholarships during the past season as a result of the penalties imposed by
the NCAA because of rule violations in 2004-2005. The team will serve its final year of the penalty next season and will not be able to award all of its scholarships until the 2010-2011 season. “Even with the shortage of scholarships and the loss of practice time, the season results were disappointing,” Walker said. “Expectations were high following the team’s Western Division Co-Championship the previous year. I
understand that we were a very young team and had to deal with many injury problems. However, we cannot allow those issues to result in lowered expectations.”
The women’s program has also faced challenges. “When Coach Rogers accepted the position two years ago, he
understood that he would be required to build a program that would continue our earlier success,” Walker said. In many games this season, the team started five new players and was one of the youngest teams in the country. “When hired, Coach Rogers was given a four-year contract to bring the program back to a competitive level, and it would be unfair to expect these results after only two years. However, he fully understands that while we know the process will take time, we will require significant improvements next season,” Walker said.
“Both coaches fully understand that the issues evaluated and discussed during this review must be addressed
and changes must be made,” Walker said. “Both are committed to reaching the level of success expected for next
season, and both understand that while the President has accepted these recommendations, he is adamant that the
standards will be raised and the results significantly improved.”
“The University will fully support our Athletic programs, but with that support comes expectations for success,” President E. Joseph Savoie stated.