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Study gives good marks to Division of Athletics
August 31, 1998

In a detailed self-study that is the first stage in a new NCAA certification process for Division I schools, a campus-wide committee has concluded that the Division of Athletics is operating consistent with NCAA standards and with the University's mission. The committee made only minor recommendations for improvement.

"In each of the areas in which they are going to examine us, we found in every case that we were in conformity with the operating principles the NCAA lays down, and what athletics is doing is consistent with the mission of the University," says Peter McFadden, chair of the self-study committee. McFadden was executive assistant to the president until his retirement in May.

The University's strategic plan includes a goal to support and continually assess the role of athletics as a method of building a sense of community, enhancing student life, and improving the University's image.

The NCAA launched the athletic certification process in 1993, as part of its reform agenda. "Part of that is a commitment to opening the affairs of athletics to the public and to the rest of the institution," says McFadden. "The NCAA wanted to set standards and provide sanctions where the standards are not met."

He says athletic certification is similar to academic accreditation. "The fundamental purpose is to validate the integrity of member institutions through a verified and evaluated self-study," he says. "The self-study enhances the understanding of athletics by the rest of campus. Certification enhances the public's image and confidence and yields tangible evidence of our ability to address problems effectively."

The self-study addresses four main topics: governance, equity, academic integrity and fiscal integrity.

The recommendations for improvement, which McFadden describes as "fairly modest," include developing a mission statement for the division; small changes in the by-laws relating to the president's responsibility for athletics; and formalizing the process of nominating faculty and staff to serve on the president's athletic advisory committee.

As far as equity is concerned, says McFadden, "the Board of Trustees took a huge step when it adopted the Title IX compliance plan for athletics. We are continuing to fine tune it but we're on our way and making excellent progress."

The document is the outcome of a 15-month self-study process, by a committee made up of 77 members, including 11 from the Division of Athletics. The process also included public forums for both staff and students.

"It was a large committee, with representation from across campus," says McFadden. "The work was not done by athletics, it was done by the campus community."

Lew Perkins, director of athletics, says this is a benefit for the division. "This process has provided an excellent opportunity for representatives from throughout the University community to learn about and provide comment on the inner workings of the Division of Athletics."

In addition to the self-study, the two-year certification process includes a site visit by an NCAA review team, expected to take place in January.

The document will be available in September, and may be reviewed on the athletics website and at the library reference desk.

Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu