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NCAA DIVISION I
ATHLETIC CERTIFICATION
(Monday, June 8, 10:45 -11:30 a.m.)

GENE HOOKS:

This is a very timely issue and I know that those of you who are here would want to hear what our panelists have to say. My name is Gene Hooks. I'm the athletic director at Wake Forest and the incoming executive director of the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association. I have been asked to moderate this panel. We're very fortunate to have John Leavens from the NCAA office and Chris Hill from the University of Utah who is on the NCAA Certification Committee, to come and visit with us this morning and to answer some questions and to give you their perspectives as to what is actually happening to the certification-creditation process.

This is a function that will be voted on at the 1993 convention to detennine exactly what the NCAA would want to do in regard to certifying schools to see if they're conducting their programs in a way that will give all of us comfort in that we're all doing the same things.

The certification issue has come from a result of the Knight Commission study and the Presidents' Commission study. It is an outgrowth of recommendations from those two groups.

John Leavens is the assistant executive director for compliance services for the NCAA and has been serving in that capacity for the last four and one-half years. He's a Duke graduate and former high school coach. He was in legislative services with the NCAA prior to compliance services. Chris Hill is a Rutgers graduate and has been the athletic director at the University of Utah for four and one-half years. Before that, he was a fund raiser at Utah and was the executive director for the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation in Utah.

These people are very knowledgeable in this area. They can bring you up to date on what has taken place. Certainly, the instrument for judging certification has not been completely developed yet, nor has the procedure for developing certification been completed yet. This ongoing process makes it very timely for these two gentlemen to be here to talk to us and to answer your questions. John will speak fIrst and Chris will follow him.

JOHN LEAYENS:

Thank you Gene. Good morning everybody. Thanks for taking time to be with us. I am here pinch hitting for Joe Crowley, the chair for the special committee on athletic certification. Joe would like to have been here to speak to the group, but he's been on a very busy schedule working on two special committees of the association. I'll do my best. We're fortunate though, to have Chris with us here today and Gene as well. I've noticed Warner Alford from Ole Miss and Craig Thompson from the Sun Belt, both serving as members of the committee. I'm sure in places where I fall short, there is plenty of help here to fill in and give you the best idea of certification as we can.

I'm going to talk basically about the background on how we got to this spot with certification and a little bit about the concept itself. I'd like to highlight some differences between the recommendations of this special committee and the pilot certification program which many of you have heard about and some are familiar with. Chris will talk about events of the day, if you will. The problems that are being wrestled with by the committee and what kinds of directions the group seems to be heading in the coming weeks and months.

Basically, the pilot program was a Division I activity that has been in motion for the last couple of years. It is just in the process of winding up. We involved about 35 institutions. It was a program administered by the national office which is probably the most significant difference between the pilot program and any continuing certification program. We fIlled the breach in as much as there wasn't any standing committee to do the work and the council and the Presidents' Commission approved the pilot certification program. Those institutions have all completed the process with the exception of one campus.

It seemed like the experience in the pilot program was maybe not universal, but it seemed to have a lot of common threads running through it. The most significant aspect was that it was terribly burdensome for the people involved in it. It seemed to be a time consuming process. People spent a lot of energy because it involved people across the campus spectrum. It also seemed to be worthwhile from the evaluations we got People seemed to take something from the experience and it was valuable for the institutions. The greatest value was for the fIrst time on many campuses, it brought people together from various constituent groups on the campus and brought them to discuss athletics specifically. It increased the understanding across the board about what the goals and purposes and the activities of the athletics departments are and tended to solidify the concepts or philosophy behind the athletics program on campus.

There was a council sub-committee that was created about a year ago to begin to think about the development of a certification program on some continuing basis. Again, separate from the pilot program. It conducted about nine meetings over the course of last year with about four telephone conferences thrown in. The results of that committee's work was a report that was generated, fIrst, in an interim basis to the full convention and then, a report submitted in April to the NCAA Council and to the Presidents' Commission. That is the first breaking point in the process. That is where the special committee came forward with its general conclusion and has asked for comments on those. Now, we're entering in on a new phase wherein the special committee has been expanded to include more Division I interests and is continuing to defme the Certification Program more clearly for legislation that may come forward this coming J anuary , including all the procedural guidelines, the details and the development of the self study instrument itself. The idea being that people need to have as much information about what this animal is going to be if the association is going to vote intelligently in January .

Let me fIrst, layout for you just briefly, the basic ideas of the Certification Program to set the stage for Chris to talk a little bit more about what's going on right now. The concept of the certification program is self study.

That is, it's essential purpose is to have an institution turn in, become in perspective, look at itself and decide how its program operates in comparison to the institution's general mission and purpose. It replaces the ISSG in Division I. I'm sure you're aware that the Institutional Self study Guide is a current requirement throughout the association. But, if this were to come to pass in Division I, the current self study process would be eliminated and would be replaced by this Certification Program.

The primary difference between the current self study and the certification proposal is that it's an evaluated self study. That is, you're having people come in from the outside and look at what you have done. That has not been true with the current ISSG. The mechanism for doing that is peer review. Having experienced administrators in the field, you folks, essentially, forming yourselves into smaller groups to come to a campus and look at the self study reports. One is to look at the self study and try to make some judgement about whether it was an inclusive process on campus. Again, this thought that it's most worthwhile if you've got all of the broad constituent groups on campus involved. That is one of the purposes of the peer review team. The other pmpose is to look at the report itself and to evaluate it against some broad fundamental operating principles that would be established as part of this program in a number of basic topic areas. So, there's a two-part purpose of that peer review process.

The topic areas at this point involve institutional mission, presidential authority, academic integrity , fiscal integrity, the commitment to rules compliance, the student-athletes' experience and the conduct of student-athletes and athletics personnel. There are seven areas that are being considered at this point and Chris will talk a little bit about whether that's the appropriate scope for this Certification Program.

The purpose of the Certification Program is to certify institutions. It is not to rule out the evil-doers and banish them. The institutions are working to improve themselves. This process is intended that by having an institution look at what it's doing, letting the whole university look at what the institution's athletics program is doing to try to identify inconsistencies or problems and the university's approach to athletics and to have the university decide how to address those problems. It does set forth some basic fundamental operating principles in each one of the areas that would serve as an invaluable basis for the peer review team.

In the event that problems are identified and it is the committee's view that that's going to be a routine process, nobody's perfect. All programs are in the business of evolving toward a better place and this process is going to identify areas of concern. The idea is, again, not to use that as a basis for punishment, but as a jumping off point for improvement. Where problems would be identified, the institution would set for itself, in discussion with the peer review team and a standing committee on certification, a time line for improving or addressing the problems that are identified. That is intended to be for a reasonable period of time, probably measured in months or years, depending on the problem and its severity. If at the end of that period of time, the standing committee on certification considers that the problems haven't been adequately addressed, you would then begin to move into a cycle of notice to the institution that it needs to give attention to these particular areas. The first step in that notice would be a probationary period which would simply say in an official way, you do have a problem here that needs to be addressed as an institution. You have had a number of months or years to correct that problem. We're concerned about it still. Now, you have a year's time in which to make significant progress. If at the end of that year, the problem is still not addressed in the eyes of the Committee of Certification, then the institution would be placed in a restricted membership, which does impact on an institution's ability to compete in an NCAA championship. At the end of that year, if the problems still were to not be addressed adequately, the institution would be placed in corresponding membership, which essentially removes most privileges for that institution in the NCAA and puts them in a position where they would have significant problems.

That is the time line for an institution that just stood before the group and said they were not going to try to solve any of its problems. We are not going to try to make any significant progress in this area. I want to emphasize again, that the idea is not to move down that path. The idea is to move institutions along toward a certification process.

Differences with the pilot certification, fIrst of all, it's more focused. There is a much clearer purpose to this program than with the pilot program. The pilot program was intended to generate information and data for use by thl special committee. That is one of the reasons it was such a cumbersome process. We were trying to think of all of the questions that one might ask as opposed to what is the single best question in an area that should be asked. Another difference was that this program is intending much more to be a streamlined program in terms of the numbers of areas in which it focuses. The thought of the committee, for the most part, is that this program needs to be very careful to identify the things that certification can do and to do those things very well as opposed to trying to be all things to all people. It is eminently clear, from the pilot program and from the discussions of this program, that athletic certification is not going to solve everybody's problems.

This is a membership-driven process. In the NCAA's pilot program, we wrote the program, we wrote the documents, we wrote the questions in consultation with others, but for the most part, the NCAA was in charge of developing and administering the program. In this case, there was a special committee that has done all of the work in terms developing the questions to the point they've been developed to this point, drafting the documents which you saw at the January convention and were forwarded to the council and the commission. Their thought is to continue on through to the convention, then to put in place a standing committee. The peer review again, is done by the membership, not NCAA staff people coming on campus to evaluate anything. The decisions on certification are made by a standing committee on certification composed of your representatives and not NCAA staff members. That's a very significant difference ever since the pilot program wound down.

The conferences are more involved in this program. The thought was that certification involves a commitment to compliance, rules compliance as one component That commitment to rules compliance is an ongoing process.

You shouldn't have a peak period every five years or ten years, or however often this occurs, at which point you gear up and do everything you need to do in terms of rules compliance. That's something that has to continue on an ongoing basis. That's a very appropriate place for conferences to be involved to blunt the sharpness of that peak during the period when you're actually developing the report itself or a review by the Peer Review Team. The conferences would have an ongoing supportive role facilitating this compliance aspect of the certification process.

In May of this year, after the council and the Presidents ' Commission looked at the report of this special committee, those groups expanded the role of the special committee, encouraged other members of Division I to be involved. Now, there are about 12 members of that special committee, plus four active consultants representing NACDA, Division II, and others who are part of the process. That group all attend the meetings and are all functioning together. That group has divided itself, essentially, into two tasks. One is to deal with the many procedural questions that remain. How often should these visits be conducted? How is the peer review team going to organize itself when it gets on campus? When is the report going to be written --before you leave campus or after you leave campus? What are the processes by which the reports are going to be considered by the standing committee? I can go on an on with questions that are involved from a procedural standpoint.

The other group is charged with developing the self study instrument itself. The guide that you will see on your campus and that you will be asked to complete as a part of the process before the peer review team comes in and to consider the programs overall scope as part of the process. That job is one that is ongoing right now. The committee has met once and is scheduling a telephone conference for Wednesday of this week and then a meeting with the full committee in a couple of weeks and then to continue on from that point Joe Crowley, the chair of the special committee is chair of the sub-committee, as well. Chris has been very closely involved with this process. He will discuss this committee now. Chris.

CHRIS HILL:


As I mentioned at the Division I-A Athletic Directors meeting yesterday, I stand before you out of fear. Fear that this will not be a reasonable task and it won't accomplish, in a meaningful way, any type of certification program. I put my staff through the pilot certification program. They went through all of that work and then said to me, "You have some responsibility, Chris, to go back and make sure this thing is reasonable and it gets accomplished." I volunteered my staff to do the pilot program and they volunteered me to get into the system and see if I could make it more meaningful and make it a reasonable situation. John would safely say that on that committee, along with some other people, I'm here to try to make this something that can accomplish its goal and, at the same time, not create a lot of new documents.

The committee that I'm involved in involves the scope issue. Those seven areas that John discussed, we are trying to decide if we need an seven. Our fIrst approach was to take academic integrity and fiscal integrity. We realize that you could not have a certification program without those two issues. It just would not be meaningful. We've taken those two issues and we're drawing out some questions from those operating principles. The feeling of the committee was that those two needed to be there. The other areas were strongly up for debate. We felt that some of those could be an exercise in creative writing and maybe something that was not meaningful on a national level. I'm going to the meetings with the idea that fiscal integrity and academic integrity are part of this. It looks like a commitment to rules compliance is another issue that we want to have involved. The others, we're not sure yet We need to hear from people about what they feel about the scope of the project. From the beginning, I've had my own bias, but I feel they've been confirmed by some other people on the committee and that is to try not to accomplish too much. This is in line with what the Knight Commission is talking about with the breadth of the project. The scope is one area that we've been working on.

In the academic area we didn't want to create a lot of new documents. We wanted to have some things that all universities could have and bring forward. Hopefully, a Peer Review Committee would not have to spend a week on your campus reading through a lot of material that you had to create especially for this committee. For example, the Graduation Rate Disclosure Form should be there available and that would tell you a lot. We thought a published statement of the admission policy of the university would be one area. We talked about a step-by-step procedure for initial eligibility. It should be a flow chart with check points because there needs to be oversight and outside involvement besides the athletic department. The same with continuing eligibility. We want to build a profIle in the admissions area. In the whole academic area we discussed eligibility , your support services, the admissions and the graduation rates. We felt those four areas would tell you how a school is doing.

None of those could stand alone. For example, in your admissions process, you may admit certain student- athletes. How does that match with your graduation rate? How does that fit into the whole flow of your support system? You may admit some special admits. Each school has a different definition of special admits. There are some people out there who have no special admits, but yet, another school has a higher percentage of admits. But, they have no meaning without all of the other data in front of you. It's safe to say that we're trying not to create a lot of documents. In the academic area, we're trying to put down 11 questions that can give you an overall view of the academic area at that institution where somebody can come in and take a look at that to see if there's another oversight and decide whether you're doing the right things.

The next area we covered was the fiscal area and, again, not trying to create more documents. We tried to use your existing budgets, audits and things that you could use on your campus where you could, again, have a flow chart to show your checks and balances on how you handle your money. Our task is to discuss the scope and other issues we may want to involve in the question area. That, briefly, is what our committee has done in the practical aspects.

I'm concerned by how few people know what's going on. I have the seven operating principles here. If you haven't gone through the pilot study, although the pilot certification is not what's going to happen, it would heighten your interests more. We don't want to create another NCAA Manual or another operation that becomes a burden and doesn't accomplish anything we want to accomplish. I'm hoping that by me investing my time now and you investing your time now, will be meaningful five years down the road. It won't be a task that takes our staff nine months to accomplish and 150 pages. That's what I put our staff through and I don't think it was a reasonable thing to put them through.

That's my background If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them. It's nice to have some people who I call practitioners and have to go through this. Again, maybe we should open the floor up for questions. Thank you.

JOHN LEAYENS:


A question was asked about in what order or what's the latest on how the order is being established for this? That question really isn't resolved at this point. One thing that the committee has said so far, is that they had been talking about doing something in some random order and there have been a number of concerns about that Some have run to, shouldn't this match with the regional accrediting process so that we're not having to gear up for that purpose and then gear up over here for athletic certification. There's been an ongoing discussion about how to treat the people in the institutions who are involved in the pilot program and they've been asked to give us their thoughts about that. For the most part, they felt they would like to put it toward the back end of the five-year period, if at all possible. They don't want to have people run through the process again very quickly. More than anything, the pilot participants would like to have their choice as to where they would be placed in the program.

The other consideration has been for conferences not to try to load up a particular conference in a particular year that if you got 10 members of a particular conference, you'd try to space that over a five-year period. It hasn't been determined that it's a five-year period. I've used five years as an example.

I don't think there have been other issues raised on the timing question at this point. That's something that will be resolved by this procedures group in the months ahead.

The Presidents' Commission talked about what's the right interval. Some on the Presidents' Commission mised the point that if we're doing regional accreditation every 10 years, shouldn't this match up, essentially, with that process? The argument was because of the scrutiny that was being placed on the area of intercollegiate athletics right now, because of the involvement and the important work of the Knight Commission over the course of the last couple of years and the interest of the Presidents' Commission in this area, shouldn't we try to get this running quickly? Shouldn't we get institutions through the process and then, evaluate where we are at the end of the that five-year period?

JOHN LEAYENS:

Fred, the Knight Commission Report did say to itself and to the country that it is pleased at the progress that has been made to this point There is still a good ways to go. The one place the Knight Commission seems to be most interested in now is the implementation of the certification program. The Knight Commission's Report seems to indicate that they continue to be interested in this certification process and on a schedule that is quicker than one in 10 years.

FRED MILLER:

I think you'll fmd that in Division I-A, our people are weary of the tail wagging the dog. We're trying to conduct reasonable intercollegiate programs and we fmd this constant interference with these programs. I believe that the Knight Commission was timely and it's met and will continue to meet its needs. We don't want you to overkill us. We want that message to come across loud and clear. The guys that I've talked to our basically sympathetic to what I'm saying right now. Enough, enough, slow down! Let's not overkill this particular issue.

I've talked to Chris at length. I felt badly for his staff, not for him, but his staff. I think that we have other tasks to do at the institutions besides a lot of paper shuffling.

JACK LENGYEL:

I would also add that dIe Knight Commission has also taken a strong position widI regard to do not create dIis certification, keep it fairly simple. It has taken a position opposite of what dIe NCAA is moving in terms of dIe number of certification issues involved. I would urge your committees to take a strong look at that and keep it in a simple context of a valid certification. I think dIat is what Fred was talking about, as well. I agree widI Chris that some of dIose issues dIat you have in dIere are English writing compositions dIat can't be evaluated

CHRIS HILL:

Jack, I think the committee is going in the exact direction that you're talking about. When you say they're in there, nothing's in there yet The point is that we're starting with just a couple, not too far away from the Knight Commission and not too far away from what you're talking about So, nothing's in there yet. We have really come to grips. We're all in favor of starting to narrow the scope a great deal.

CHRIS VOELZ:

Chris VoeIz from Minnesota and president of NACWAA. We've not had the luxury yet of having Marcia report back to our whole group. I just wanted to make sure that the certification process recognized that NACW AA really believes that gender equity, in some form, really belongs in a part of the certification process. Not only it being one of the 10 items that the Knight Commission has said, but certainly, being the wave of trying to do the right thing with the NCAA. r d like to ask what your reflection is. Do you see that as a value or as a special interest group because I can imagine that in a lot of special interests groups things should be streamlined and kept away from the narrow scope. While, if it is accepted as a value, then we certainly want to be a part of it

CHRIS HILL:

Right now the great debate is does it need to be a separate operating principle, does it need to be woven in amongst the academic areas and the other areas that we have. We haven't decided that yet. That will be one of om big discussion topics. You mentioned something about special interests groups. We had a student-athlete experience and all of a sudden you have everyone was concerned about a student-athlete. If you really care about the student- athlete and there's integrity there, you need to have all of these health issues addressed. What is more important than the person's health. You have a lot of other issues. So, are these special interests groups going to create categories.

Are we going to have categories that have some critical questions in there that address the issues that you're concerned about. That's the debate right now. The more categories we develop, the more dangerous it becomes for the special interests group.

MARCIA SANEHOLTZ:

At our fIrSt meeting, the two topics of discussion were academic and fiscal integrity, which I think, the committee is really sensitive and addresses the concerns that people have expressed here today in-so-far as to try to keep it as simple as possible. Also, using as basic materials for the certification process, materials that you already have on your campus because no one is interested in running around writing materials just to impress the people with a command for our English language. The committee is extremely sensitive to that issue.

As far as the other issues involved in the scope, there were seven issues. Two have been identified. The committee has not had an in-depth discussion of that yet and that's the focus of our next meeting. I'll leave it at that.

JOHN LEAVENS:

I will say that in the concept of special interest, it really doesn't seem like there's been just a huge outpouring or uprising of concerns raised by special groups. It seems like people have in mind that there are some key central issues that are supposed to be addressed to this process and we haven't seen a bubbling up of trainers, or whatever the group might be, to say, this is our salvation. There are two concerns that have been central to this process all along in terms of how will they be treated. Gender equity issues are one and minority concerns are the other. Those are the two that this group is really wrestling with right now.

FROM THE FLOOR:

Certification suggests to me national standards and I'm still unclear about the balance between an institution's mission versus national standards. I throw out, for example, graduation rates. We anticipate that this certification process will issue a national standard for what your athletic graduation should be and if you fall beneath, will you then be categorized as one who lacks academic integrity?

My second question is much simpler than that. I'm the fiscal officer at my institution. I undergo a university audit every year. I undergo a state audit and an NCAA audit every year and I'm curious about what the fiscal integrity aspect of this would achieve beyond what those three audits, which are extremely time-consuming would achieve.

JOHN LEAVENS:

I'11 address the standards question. The experience of the pilot program was that you really can't develop specific kinds of standards in terms of numbers or percentages that you could just say, this is it for the country and everybody out there has to meet this standard Your experiences and the types of institutions from which you hail are so different from each other. There has been, also, a thread that what you're really trying to do here is to place the athletics program in an appropriate context within the institution.

I'll use your example of graduation rates. What the committee is looking for at this point is the graduate rate of your student-athlete population and comparing it with the students generally in terms of their academic performance and success as measured by graduation. The committee hasn't walked up to what that means in terms of a standard. It would seem to imply that the question is, should your student-athlete graduation rate be roughly comparable to that of students generally. There has been some sentiment expressed for that. But, that is the kind of standard that people are talking about, rather than 68 percent. It seems like the standards are going to tie back to the institution' s experience and its own interests in academic success for students generally and look at student-athletes in comparison to that.

In the academic area, particularly, it seemed clear from the last meeting of this group, that it was much more interested in the graduation rate as a measure than it was in the admissions of student-athletes as compared with students generally. That is perhaps, one place where there is a difference between the Knight Commission's position and that of this special committee. The special committee, at least, seems to say there may be some differences in terms of the admissions of student-athletes as compared to students generally if you look at the academic profIles for those people who are admitted. But, the key aspect is how well are those students admitted at the lower end of the profIle supported through the course of their work. What kind of continuing progress do they make and what happen! to them at the end. Do they graduate or do they not? Do they have academic success? Again, that standard applies more toward the back end.

CHRIS HILL:


The audit situation is we're trying to figure out a way to take the existing audits that you have and have them available for the peer review team to see if there are any irregularities there and see what they address. We haven't really formalized this yet, but that's what we're trying to do. We do not want to create any more audits, simply take the ones you now go through and deal with those. The academic issue may be on your campus as to what are your goals and what do you expect to happen after who you accept someone. This is where your graduation rates needs to be and all of sudden, you're consistently 40 percentage points below where you should be, there's a problem on your campus and how should this be addressed.

Again, it hasn't been formalized, but that's the flavor or what the group is thinking about.

JOHN LEAVENS:

In the financial area, there is this thought of the independent audit that's already required being a central part of the material that would simply be given to the Peer Review Team to look at, so there wouldn't be extra work created there. There are two other aspects that bear some mention. One is this concept of how funds are budgeted for the athletics program which maybe isn't picked up as much in a true audit of an athletics program fmances, but it was of an interest to the special committee in the fIrst meeting. Who's involved in the decision process for budgeting funds and how are those funds budgeted regardless of the source. If you have funds available to you from an outside group, do those funds go through a budgeting process that's very similar for that for the institution generally?

The second question is the question of revenues and expenditures. There was some interest in looking at the revenue sources and getting a clear picture, based on the institution's own procedures. Not setting up a whole separate mechanism, but based on the institution's procedures getting a clear picture of what the revenues are for that program, from what sources and then the projected expenditures from the athletics programs for its purposes and comparing projections to actual as a part of the process itself.

Those were the major points of discussion in this last meeting. It's hoped that it won't be terribly cumbersome because it comes from information that one hopes is readily available on campus.