by Geoff Larcom, Published October 28, 2010
YPSILANTI -- Eastern Michigan University has started a year-long, campus-wide effort to study its athletics program as part of the NCAA Division I athletics certification program. Specific areas the study will cover are governance and commitment to rules compliance, academic integrity, gender/diversity and student-athlete well-being.
While academic accreditation is common in colleges and universities, this program focuses solely on certification of athletics programs. Following a two-year pilot project, the NCAA Division I membership overwhelmingly supported the program and its standards at the 1993 NCAA Convention. Eastern Michigan completed its first certification self-study in 1997. At the 1997 Convention, the NCAA Division I membership voted to change the frequency of athletics certification from once every five years to once every 10 years. Eastern Michigan completed its second certification self-study in 2003. Thus, the current self-study will be the third in the certification process for Eastern.
The athletics certification program's purpose is to help ensure integrity in the institution's athletics operations. The program opens up athletics to the rest of the university/college community and to the public. Institutions benefit by increasing campus-wide awareness and knowledge of the athletics program, confirming its strengths and developing plans to improve areas of concern.
The committee responsible for the study includes President Susan Martin
and is chaired by Walter Kraft, vice president for communications. The committee also includes various members of the institution's faculty and staff, as well as athletics department personnel. A member of the NCAA academic and membership affairs staff conducted a one-day orientation videoconference with the committee and its subcommittees on Sept. 1, 2010 to formally launch the process.
Within each area to be studied by the committee, the program has standards known as operating principles that were adopted by the Association to establish benchmarks by which all Division I members are evaluated.
When Eastern Michigan University has concluded its study, an external team of reviewers will conduct a three or four-day evaluation visit on campus. The reviewers will be peers from other colleges, universities or conference offices. The peer-review team will report to the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification. The Committee on Athletics Certification will then determine the institution's certification status and announce the decision publicly. For institutions that fail to conduct a comprehensive self-study or to correct problems, sanctions could be imposed.
The three options of certification status are: certified; certified with conditions; and not certified. While institutions will have an opportunity to correct deficient areas, those institutions that do not take necessary corrective actions may be ruled ineligible for NCAA championships.
The NCAA is a membership organization of colleges and universities that participate in intercollegiate athletics. The primary purpose of the Association is to maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the educational program and the athlete as an integral part of the student body. Activities of the NCAA membership include formulating rules of play for NCAA sports, conducting national championships, adopting and enforcing standards of eligibility, and studying all phases of intercollegiate athletics.