June 01, 2007

Moccia to serve on prestigious NCAA committee

by Tom Weber


CARBONDALE, Ill. — Mario Moccia, Southern Illinois University Carbondale's director of athletics, will serve on a prestigious NCAA committee that seeks to improve academic performance and graduation rates in Division I college basketball.

The blue-ribbon panel will spend the next 12 to 18 months developing strategies to combat graduation rates in men's basketball that are among the lowest in Division I athletics.

"I am honored to participate in this important endeavor," Moccia said. "First and foremost, student-athletes are in school to get a quality education, graduate and become productive citizens. This committee is designed to make sure men's basketball student-athletes reach their full potential."

Specifically, the committee will analyze research and literature regarding the academic performance trends of Division I men's basketball student-athletes. It will identify factors in the sport that may be impairing the academic performance of these student-athletes.

"Fan interest in the sport of men's basketball has sky-rocketed in recent years," Moccia said. "At the same time, many student-athletes in this sport are not performing in the classroom at the same level as other student-athletes. We need to figure out why that is."

"We are not interested in changing the people who play on the court," said NCAA President Myles Brand. "We are interested in helping those who play be successful."

After the group identifies changes that could enhance academic performance, it will submit a set of recommendations to the Division I Board of Directors.

Moccia is one of 25 committee members, which includes university presidents and chancellors, head coaches, commissioners, directors of athletics and faculty athletics representatives

"Our fans can be proud that the success of the Salukis on the court has enabled me to sit at the table where these important decisions are being made, and that Southern Illinois will have a voice on a national level," Moccia said.

Other members of the committee include:

• Cy Alexander, Head Men's Basketball Coach, Tennessee State University

• Kevin Anderson, Director of Athletics, U.S. Military Academy

• Britton Banowsky, Commissioner, Conference USA

• Dr. Percy Bates, Faculty Athletics Representative, University of Michigan

• Jim Boeheim, Head Men's Basketball Coach, Syracuse University

• Pete Boone, Director of Athletics, University of Mississippi

• President Robert Bruininks, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

• Dr. Jack Evans, Faculty Athletics Representative, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

• President Walter Harrison, University of Hartford

• Dr. Alan Hauser, Faculty Athletics Representative, Appalachian State University

• Paul Hewitt, Head Men's Basketball Coach, Georgia Institute of Technology

• Ron Hunter, Head Men's Basketball Coach, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis

• Jeff Long, Director of Athletics, University of Pittsburgh

• Phil Martelli, Head Men's Basketball Coach, Saint Joseph's University

• Reggie Minton, Deputy Executive Director, National Association of Basketball Coaches

• President Sidney A. Ribeau, Bowling Green State University

• Bo Ryan, Head Men's Basketball Coach, University of Wisconsin, Madison

• Herb Sendek, Head Men's Basketball Coach, Arizona State University

• Mike Slive, Commissioner, Southeastern Conference

• Gene Smith, Director of Athletics, Ohio State University

• Jon A. Steinbrecher, Commissioner, Ohio Valley Conference

• Dr. John Watson, Director of Athletics, Pepperdine University

• President Steve Weber, San Diego State University

• Kevin Weiberg, Commissioner, Big 12 Conference

• Debbie Yow, Director of Athletics, University of Maryland, College Park