All that stands in the way of the SWAC avoiding the doomsday scenario of having one of four ineligible schools win the conference tournament is for Arkansas-Pine Bluff to be the underachievers they’ve been all season.
I’m sure SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp breathed a deep sigh of relief (even if he won’t admit it) after 22-loss Prairie View knocked off regular season conference champion Southern 64-46 in Wednesday’s SWAC tournament semifinal game.
Southern, the favorite to win the 10-team tournament, although the team was banned from postseason play by the NCAA on Feb. 27, is now eliminated.
So are Mississippi Valley State and Grambling State even though both teams were more than likely not going to win the tournament unless the NCAA and the SWAC ruled that eight teams were somehow academically ineligible and stuck with the verdict.
In the days leading up to the tournament, critics from far and wide solicited heavy-handed criticism toward the SWAC and its Council of Presidents and Chancellors for recklessly allowing Southern, Mississippi Valley State, Grambling State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff to play in its crown jewel spring event in the fourth largest city in America.
Sacrificing academic integrity for a financial boon was the outcry from columnists, social media types and message board trolls analyzing the decision from their weather-resistant high horses.
Those loud tones were sure hushed last night, and will be reduced to a murmur once Alabama A&M goes Golden Lion hunting later today.
Fear-mongering over the prospect of an ineligible school holding up the trophy and cutting down the nets Saturday while an eligible and trophyless school – either in the title game or prior – advances anyhow due to “bureaucracy,” according to one scribe.
It was almost as if some were hoping Sharp would have to explain to the national media and college basketball big foots why that scenario was allowed to happen in the first place to quench their unhealthy thirst for SWAC embarrassment with the hopes that the scrutiny would force the league to change its hustilin’ backward ways.
Never mind the fact that few outside the SWAC knows the league even exists or the APR circumstance individual schools found themselves in.
There surely would have been former athletes and coaches turned professional multimedia opinionaters at the ready to make you care like the SWAC, or HBCUs, have had this long rap sheet of undeservedly getting over.
Thank you, Prairie View.
Now, Sharpe will grab him a comfortable seat inside the Toyota Center while seriously pondering whether to don crimson-colored Alabama A&M regalia.