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UM NCAA Certification Self-Study 2010-2011

The University of Montana

OVERVIEW - NCAA DIVISION I ATHLETICS CERTIFICATION PROGRAM 

History

In 1989, former NCAA Executive Director Richard Schultz introduced the athletics certification concept.  A two-year pilot program of 34 NCAA Division I institutions began in 1990. A special committee studied the results of the pilot program over the next year and a streamlined version of the program was formulated and supported by the former NCAA Presidents Commission, the former NCAA Council and the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.  Athletics certification was approved by NCAA Division I institutions at the 1993 NCAA Convention as a key part of the Association's reform agenda and is proceeding through its third cycle of institutional self-studies.

The NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification (hereafter referred to as the committee), comprised of 18 administrators (chancellors or presidents, faculty athletics representatives, directors of athletics, senior woman administrators, conference commissioners) from the membership, is appointed to administer the program and determine the certification status of each Division I institution.

Purpose

Athletics certification is meant to ensure the Association's fundamental commit­ment to integrity in intercollegiate athletics by:

1.  Opening the affairs of athletics to the institutional community and the public;

2.  Setting standards (called operating principles) for the operation of Division I athletics programs. These standards cover three basic areas:  (a) governance and commitment to rules compliance; (b) academic integrity; and (c) gender/diversity and student-athlete well-being; and

3.  Putting tough sanctions in place for institutions that fail to con­duct a comprehensive self-    study or correct deficiencies.

Benefits of the Self-Study

The core of athletics certification is the institution's self-study in which broad-based campus participation is critical.  An effective self-study benefits the institution by providing:

1.  Self-awareness.  The self-study offers a unique opportunity to educate individuals across campus about the athletics program's goals and purposes, the many challenges facing athletics and the ways in which athletics support the institution's mission.

2.  Affirmation.  Athletics certification is meant to be a positive experience and the self-study process will reveal many aspects of the athletics program worthy of praise;.

3.  Opportunities to Improve.  Even an outstanding program can be better, and issues will be identified routinely as part of any institution's self-study.  As these issues come to light, the self-study process will offer a forum for suggestions from individuals with a wide range of experience.

Conducting the Self-Study

Member institutions are permitted seven to nine months to complete the athletics certification self-study report, which formally begins with the institution's orientation videoconference by an NCAA staff member.  Each member institution forms a self-study steering committee that must include the chancellor/president, faculty athletics representative (FAR), director of athletics (AD), senior woman administrator (SWA), student-athlete representative(s), and athletic certification liaison. The campus contact and report coordinator are also recommended steering committee participants.  To ensure broad-based participation by various campus constituent groups on the steering committee, representation from the following groups may be sought:  (a) governing board; (b) administration external to athletics, including academic affairs, fiscal affairs, student affairs, multicultural or diversity affairs, admissions, registrars, financial aid, and human resources; (c) faculty; (d) student body; (e) alumni; (f) representatives of the institutions athletics interests; and (g) athletics board or committee members.

Evaluation of the Self-Study

When an institution's self-study report is completed, a peer-review visit (generally three or four days in length) will be conducted.  The committee will identify issues it believes may prevent the institution from establishing conformity with the operating principles.  These issues will be provided to the peer-review team and the institution prior to the visit.  Generally, a three or four-member peer-review team will be selected from a pool that includes individuals from Division I institutions or conferences.  These individuals must hold the position of chancellor/president, AD, FAR, SWA or have a recognized expertise in particular areas addressed in the cer­tification program.  A chancellor/president will serve as chair, when­ever possible.  Any rules violations or potential rules violations relating to an operating principle discovered by the peer-review team will be included in its written report to the institution and the committee.

The Certification Decision

The committee will render its decision based on materials provided by the institution and the peer-review team and additional material and information deemed relevant by the committee.  Pursuant to NCAA Division I Bylaw 22.3.1, the committee will determine an institution's certification status consistent with the following three categories:

1.      Certified - An institution that has been "certified" is considered to be operating its athletics program in substantial conformity with the operating principles.  This classification denotes that:  (a) any problems identified by the institution in its self-study or by the peer-review team during its evaluation were considered by the committee to be not serious enough to affect the institution's certification status; and (b) the institution demonstrated adequate follow up to concerns and/or improvement plans directly related to the operating principles that were identified by the institution or the committee during the institution's previous regular or interim self-study.

2.      Certified with Conditions - An institution that has been "certified with conditions" is considered to be operating its athletics program in substantial conformity with the operating principles.  However, this classification denotes that:  (a) problems identified by the institution in its self-study or the peer-review team during its evaluation were considered serious enough by the committee to cause it to withhold full certification until those problems have been corrected; or (b) the institution did not demonstrate adequate follow up to concerns and/or improvement plans directly related to the operating principles that were identified by the institution or the committee during the institution's previous regular or interim report.

3.      Not Certified - An institution that is "not certified" is considered not to be operating its athletics program in substantial conformity with the operating principles.  This classification denotes that:  (a) problems identified by the institution in its self-study or the peer-review team during its evaluation were considered by the committee to be very serious or pervasive; or (b) the institution did not demonstrate adequate follow up to concerns and/or improvement plans directly related to the operating principles that were identified by the institution or the committee during the institution's previous regular or interim self-study and action must be taken by the institution before it can be certified conditionally. 

An institution classified as "not certified" may be placed in a restricted membership category (ineligible for NCAA championships) for up to one year for failure to correct problems during a specified time period.  If problems continue to remain unresolved, the committee may reclassify an institution as a corresponding member (no longer an active member of the NCAA). 

Participation in this program is separate from the Association's enforce­ment process.  Determination of a "certified" status is not an indication that an institution is free of infractions or exempt from the occurrence of violations of NCAA rules and regulations.  Institutions that receive a notice of allegation(s) or inquiry from the NCAA enforcement staff are requested to notify the chair of the committee and/or NCAA staff liaison if the institution is currently engaged in the athletics certification process or is scheduled to begin the process in the near future.

The identification and acknowledgment of opportunities to improve by the peer-review team or committee during the process should not be viewed as a sign of an unhealthy program but, rather, as an indication that the institution is committed to the self-study process and its own improvement

After an institution is notified of the certification decision, the committee will announce its decision publicly through a standard press release.

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