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U. of I. campus begins 12-month study of athletics program for NCAA

Sharita Forrest, News Editor

Released 9/5/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Chancellor Richard Herman announced today (Sept. 5) that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has begun a yearlong campuswide effort to study its athletics program as part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I athletics certification program. Specific areas the study will cover are academic integrity, governance and commitment to rules compliance, equity and student-athlete well-being.

Although academic accreditation is common in colleges and universities, the NCAA athletics certification program focuses solely on athletics programs and is designed to ensure the integrity of institutions’ athletics operations. The athletics certification program was founded in 1993, and is conducted once every 10 years.

“DIA (the U. of I. Division of Intercollegiate Athletics) is one of the leading athletic departments in the nation, and these decadal requirements are a good opportunity to examine our activities and benchmark them against best practices,” Herman said.

Within each area to be studied by the committee, the program has standards called operating principles that were adopted by the NCAA as a “measuring stick” by which all Division I members are evaluated.

Renee Romano, vice chancellor for student affairs, will chair the steering committee responsible for the self-study. Other members of the steering committee include Herman and various faculty and staff members, including DIA staff members.

“This process guides us in evaluating our program to NCAA standards as well as the principles of our academic mission,” Romano said. “It’s a great opportunity to involve the university community in a close look at Illinois athletics.”

Once the university has concluded its study, which is expected to be by May, an external team of reviewers from peer institutions or conference offices will conduct a two-day minimum evaluation visit on campus and report to the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification, which will determine the university’s certification status and announce its decision publicly.

The three types of certification status are: certified, certified with conditions and not certified. Universities have opportunities to correct deficiencies that are found; institutions that do not take corrective actions may be ruled ineligible for NCAA championships.

A member of the NCAA membership services staff will conduct a one-day orientation videoconference with the committee and its subcommittees on Sept. 25.

The NCAA is a membership organization of colleges and universities that participate in intercollegiate athletics. The primary purpose of the NCAA 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.