The team that Gonzaga meets Thursday in its first game of the NCAA tournament might not be here if it weren't for the kind of rules-keeping...
SALT LAKE CITY — The team that Gonzaga meets Thursday in its first game of the NCAA tournament might not be here if it weren’t for the kind of rules-keeping violations in the Southwestern Athletic Conference that Southern University itself ran afoul of a few years ago.
When the SWAC ended its regular season, Texas Southern was atop the standings at 16-2. But the Tigers were ineligible for the league tournament — flagged by the NCAA last fall for some serious NCAA violations in their athletic department, including lack of institutional control.
Southern finished 15-3, in a tie for second. The co-runner-up, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, also was ineligible because of NCAA Academic Progress Rate violations.
Mississippi Valley State, which finished next-to-last at 5-13, also was an APR casualty. So with three teams out of the running, Southern had a double bye and nipped Prairie View, 45-44, for the title.
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The Jaguars themselves battled APR issues as coach Roman Banks took over in 2011, having lost scholarships, and as he put it Wednesday, “on the bubble” for “losing your program.”
• Gonzaga was allotted 550 tickets for the subregional here — about 350 in the lower bowl of Energy Solutions Arena — but that includes some for students and families of players. Athletic director Mike Roth estimates that left about 450 for boosters, allotted on a priority-points system based on donations.
“We could make a lot more people happy if we had access to tickets,” said Roth, “but we don’t.”
• The Salt Lake City site has moved to the home of the Utah Jazz after the Huntsman Center on the Utah campus played host to 81 NCAA tournament games, third-most by any facility in history behind (starting with the 2013 event) University of Dayton Arena at 91 and Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, which staged its last games in 1964. Huntsman’s tight quarters around the floor and media-related accommodations were key in the move.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org