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September 15, 2005

Pitt begins year-long athletics self study

Pitt announced this month that it will begin a yearlong, campus-wide self-study of its athletics program as part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I athletics certification program.

The NCAA is an organization of more than 300 colleges and universities that participate in intercollegiate athletics.

The certification program’s purpose is to help ensure integrity in an institution’s athletics operations. The study will examine academic integrity, governance and commitment to rules compliance, as well as a commitment to equity and student-athlete welfare.

The certification process — the equivalent for athletics of accreditation for academic units — was part of a reform agenda that the NCAA approved at its 1993 convention.

Pitt last conducted an NCAA certification self-study in 1997-1998. The University received full certification for its athletics programs in November 1998.

(See November 25, 1998, University Times.)

Each Division I school is expected to complete a self-study every five years. But Internal Audit director John Elliott, who chaired the 1997-1998 Pitt self-study steering committee, predicted in 1998 that the next evaluation likely would occur in the 2005-2007 range due to the length of the self-evaluating process and the ongoing nature of complying with NCAA guidelines.

For the current study, Pitt has established a committee to review its athletics programs that includes Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg; Vice Chancellor Randy Juhl, who will serve as committee chair; members of the faculty and staff, and 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 evaluation process.

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

Once the committee concludes its study, an external team of reviewers will visit the Pittsburgh campus for several days to evaluate the program. Reviewers are peers from other colleges, universities or conference offices. That team will report to the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification, which will determine the institution’s certification status and announce the decision publicly. The entire process is expected to take about 18 months.

The options for certification status are: certified; certified with conditions, and not certified.

Member institutions will have an opportunity to correct deficient areas. Those universities/colleges that do not take corrective actions may be ruled ineligible for NCAA championships.

-—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 38 Issue 2

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