August 28, 2006

SIUC begins certification process for athletics

by Sue Davis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale administrators and the campus community will study the University's athletics program over the course of the next year as part of the NCAA Division I certification program.

SIUC Chancellor Walter V. Wendler said the study is moving forward as the University reviews athletics with the help of the entire University community. "Peter C. Alexander, dean of SIU's School of Law, will lead the study steering committee through the process that will further enhance our athletics programs, " he said. "The study will look at academic integrity, equity and the welfare of our student athletes, and governance and commitment to rules compliance."

This is the second self-study for SIUC since the concept of accrediting athletics programs was adopted by the NCAA's Division I membership in 1993. Its purpose, explained Kathy Jones, associate director of Intercollegiate Athletics and senior woman administrator, is to help ensure integrity in the institution's athletics operations.

"If we take this opportunity to examine our program critically, we'll emerge with a stronger, more focused effort that will benefit the students and the institution," she said. "It's a self-study that will lead to self-improvement."

The self-study process opens up athletics to the rest of the University/college community and to the public. SIUC will benefit by increasing campus-wide awareness and knowledge of the athletics program, confirming its strengths and developing plans to improve areas of concern. Like the academic accreditation process for colleges and universities, the athletics study will involve faculty, staff, students and members of the community. The steering committee will oversee three subcommittees, one each for

  • Academic integrity,
  • Equity and the welfare of student athletes, and
  • Governance and the commitment to rules compliance.

Serving on the steering committee are Wendler, Jones, faculty athletics representative Harold R. Bardo, and Athletics Director Mario L. Moccia.

Once SIUC concludes its study, an external team of reviewers will conduct a two-day minimum evaluation visit on campus. Those reviewers will be peers from other colleges, universities or conference offices. That team will report to the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification, another independent group. The committee will then determine the University's certification status and announce the decision publicly.

Programs are either (a) certified; (b) certified with conditions; or (c) not certified.

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