Students and ethics count in D-I process
January 6, 2006
By Mitchel Benson
Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef recently announced that UC Davis has begun a six-month-long, campuswide effort to study its athletics program as part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I athletics certification program. The study will cover the campus's academic integrity, governance and commitment to rules compliance, as well as its commitment to gender equity and student-athlete welfare.
The purpose of the NCAA certification program is to help ensure integrity in UC Davis' athletics operations. It opens up athletics to the rest of the university community and to the public. The NCAA believes that institutions like UC Davis will benefit from increasing campuswide awareness and knowledge of the athletics program, confirming its strengths and developing plans to improve areas of concern.
UC Davis is currently in the third year of a four-year transition from Division II to Division I-AA status. Should the NCAA grant UC Davis its Division I certification, the campus's first year of active membership in Division I will be the 2007-8 academic year.
"I look forward to the public review of our athletics program over the next half-year, Vanderhoef said, "and I am optimistic that it will ultimately lead us to certification."
UC Davis' written report of its study is due to the NCAA on May 15. The UC Davis committee responsible for the study includes Vanderhoef and is chaired by Stan Nosek, vice chancellor for administration. Additional committee members include various university faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as athletics department personnel.
"We are taking our responsibility seriously to reach out to all corners of our campus community and pay close attention to whatever it is those interested voices have to say about UC Davis athletics," Nosek said. "The broader the reach of our study, the stronger our athletics program will be."
Among other things, the campus certification committee is establishing a Web site (www.news.ucdavis.edu/ncaa_certification) to make all certification materials available to the campus community. In addition, the committee and four subcommittees are expected to schedule public meetings in the coming months to solicit input regarding UC Davis Athletics.
In conducting its study, UC Davis' certification committee will use standards, called operating principles, which the NCAA has adopted as "measuring sticks" to evaluate all Division I members.
After UC Davis concludes its study and submits its report, an NCAA team of external reviewers will conduct a minimum two-day evaluation visit on campus. Those reviewers will be peers from other colleges, universities and conference offices.
The review team will report back to the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification, another independent group. The NCAA Division I committee will then determine UC Davis' certification status and announce the decision publicly. Tough sanctions can be imposed on institutions that fail to conduct their own comprehensive evaluations or to correct problems.
The NCAA has three options of certification status: (a) certified; (b) certified with conditions; and (c) not certified. All universities and colleges are given an opportunity to correct deficient areas, and those that fail to take corrective actions may be ruled ineligible for NCAA championships.
UC Davis has one of the largest athletics programs in the country, with more than 700 student-athletes participating in 26 varsity sports. UC Davis has been a longtime powerhouse in Division II intercollegiate athletics, winning the prestigious Directors' Cup six times. The award is presented each year to the most successful athletic programs at each of the NCAA Division I, II and III levels, as well as the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Points are awarded to schools whose teams advance to NCAA or NAIA championship play.
While academic accreditation is common for colleges and universities, the NCAA program focuses solely on certification of athletics programs.
Following a pilot project, the Division I membership overwhelmingly supported the certification program and its standards at the 1993 NCAA Convention. At the 1997 convention, the Division I membership voted to change the frequency of athletics certification from once every five years to once every 10 years and to require a five-year, interim status report.
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