AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin has initiated a year long, campus-wide study of its men’s and women’s athletic programs as part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I athletics certification program, President William Powers Jr. announced today (Sept. 12).
Specific areas reviewed in the certification process are: academic integrity, governance and commitment to rules compliance and commitment to equity and student-athlete well-being.
While academic accreditation is common in colleges and universities, the NCAA program focuses solely on certification of athletics programs. Since 1997, the NCAA requires all Division I schools to complete a full athletics certification process every 10 years.
UT Athletics completed its last full NCAA certification in August 1997 and its interim status report in August 2003. The NCAA certification program’s purpose is to help ensure integrity in the institution’s athletics operations. It opens up athletics to the rest of the university 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.
Before the certification cycle approached, UT Men’s Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds and Women’s Athletics Director Chris Plonsky had staff complete a self-study benchmarking report between January 2004 and May 2006. The areas covered in the benchmark exercise were: student academic support and other services, sports medicine, fiscal operations, events management, fund-raising, communications, compliance and administrative structure. The study also provided strategic and tactical recommendations to ensure that UT Athletics remains at a high competitive level while functioning in a responsible manner within the framework of rules and regulations established by the state of Texas, UT System, Big 12 Conference and the NCAA.
The committee responsible for the study includes Powers, Senior Vice President Shirley Bird Perry (steering committee chair) and representatives of the faculty, staff, student body and alumni, as well as athletics department personnel. A member of the NCAA membership services staff will conduct a one-day orientation videoconference with the committee and its subcommittees early in the process.
Patti Ohlendorf, vice president for institutional relations and legal affairs, leads the governance and commitment to rules compliance portion of the study, while Isabella Cunningham, chair of the Department of Advertising, oversees the focus on academic integrity. Greg Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, directs the commitment to equity and student-athlete well-being area.
Within each area to be studied by the committee, the program has standards, or operating principles, which were adopted by the NCAA to place a benchmark by which all Division I members are evaluated.
Once the university concludes its study, an external team of reviewers will conduct a two-day minimum evaluation visit on campus. The reviewers will be peers from other colleges, universities or conference offices. That team will report to the independent NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification. The committee will then determine the institution’s certification status and announce the decision publicly.