by Geoff Larcom, Published February 28, 2013
YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University has received certification from the NCAA, denoting that the University's athletics program operates in compliance with the principles adopted by Division I membership.
The NCAA Division I Committee on Institutional Performance announced the decision today. The University of Buffalo was also certified.
The decision completes an extensive review process that studied numerous aspects of Eastern's athletics program. The five specific areas of study included governance and commitment to rules and compliance, academic integrity, gender equity, diversity and student athlete well-being.
EMU completed a yearlong study, with separate subcommittees drafting reports on each of the five areas. The chair for the overall certification process was Walter Kraft, vice president for communications at EMU. The chief writer and editor for Eastern's report was Melody Reifel Werner, associate athletic director and senior women's administrator. President Susan Martin appointed a steering committee, which included 15 people.
The self-study, which involved more than 50 people on campus, was required to take place outside of the athletics department, and a campus question and answer forum was held in April of 2011.
Eastern has 21 varsity athletics teams, including nine men's teams and 12 women's teams, involving a total of 535 student athletes. In fall 2012, the athletics department achieved the highest overall cumulative grade point average in Eastern's history, compiling a 3.201 GPA.
"We are gratified and proud to receive this certification from the NCAA," said Eastern Michigan President Susan Martin. "The process was extremely rigorous, and spotlighted the many strengths of Eastern's athletics program, including our attention to rules compliance, academics and the well-being of our athletes."
EMU Athletics Director Derrick Gragg said, "During the past 10 years, since our last certification, Eastern Michigan University has operated the athletics program with pride and excellence. Achieving certification is an important accomplishment and means that our program is being operated in accordance with the NCAA's standards and values. I want to thank the many faculty, staff, coaches and students for a job well done throughout the certification process."
"This was a comprehensive process that engaged people from across the University community," said Kraft. "That group included students and student athletes, faculty, staff, our athletics department and University leadership. We appreciate their time, involvement and commitment to this important effort."
Today's announcements represent the last certifications started before the Division I Board of Directors placed a moratorium on the program in April 2011. In January 2011, NCAA President Mark Emmert asked staff to evaluate the program to reduce the burden on institutions, increase cost-effectiveness and improve the overall value.
Legislation mandating certification was adopted for all active Division I schools in 1993 to ensure the integrity of each member's athletics program, while assisting institutions with improvements when necessary. Each member completed a self-study at least once every 10 years. Eastern was last certified in 2003.
The process worked like this: The Division I Committee on Institutional Performance preliminarily reviewed a member's self-study report and identified areas of concern. Then, the university or college resolved the identified issues before a final certification decision was rendered. A member's failure to satisfactorily respond to the committee could negatively affect certification status.
The certification process is separate from the NCAA's enforcement program, which investigates allegations of rules violations by NCAA member institutions. Certification does not exempt an institution from concurrent or subsequent enforcement proceedings.
Eastern's steering committee members included President Martin, Gragg, Reifel Werner, Linda McGill, former special assistant to the president; Jim Stapleton, member, EMU Board of Regents; Arnold Fleischmann, professor of political science; Kay Woodiel, professor, College of Health and Human Services; Rhonda DeLong, former director of web communications and new media; Elizabeth Broughton, professor of leadership and counseling; James Gallaher, chief human resources officer; Larry Barkoff, assistant general counsel; Ellen Gold, assistant vice president for student well being; and student athletes Nick Carbary (golf) and Kaitlyn Vincek (volleyball).