Academy officials begin year-long self study of athletics

  • Published
Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould announced Oct. 6 that Academy officials will begin a year-long, campus-wide effort to study the athletics program as part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I athletics certification program. Specific areas the study will cover are academic integrity, governance and commitment to rules compliance, commitment to gender and diversity and student-athlete well-being.

While academic accreditation is common in colleges and universities, this program focuses solely on certification of athletics programs. Following a two-year pilot project, the NCAA Division I membership overwhelmingly supported the program and its standards at the 1993 NCAA Convention.  Academy officials completed the first certification self-study in 1995. 

At the 1997 convention, the NCAA Division I membership voted to change the frequency of athletics certification from once every five years to once every 10 years. Academy officials completed a second certification self-study in 2002. Thus, the current self-study will be the third in the certification process for the Academy.

The purpose of the athletics certification program is to help ensure integrity in the institution's athletics operations. The program opens up athletics to the rest of the university/college community and to the public. Institutions will benefit by increasing campus-wide awareness and knowledge of the athletics program, confirming its strengths and developing plans to improve areas of concern.

The committee responsible for the study will include General Gould, Dean of Faculty Col. Thomas Yoder, various members of the institution's faculty and staff, 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.

Within each area to be studied by the committee, the program has standards known as operating principles that were adopted by NCAA members to establish benchmarks by which all Division I members are evaluated.

When Academy officials have concluded their study, an external team of reviewers will conduct a three-day evaluation visit on campus. Those reviewers will be peers from other colleges, universities or conference offices. The peer-review team will report to the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification. The committee will then determine the institution's certification status and announce the decision publicly. For institutions that fail to conduct a comprehensive self-study or to correct problems, sanctions could be imposed.

The three options of certification status are: certified; certified with conditions and not certified. While institutions will have an opportunity to correct deficient areas, those institutions that do not take corrective actions may be ruled ineligible for NCAA championships.

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.