University releases self-study of athletics program as part of recertification

The NCAA might get the final say on whether the University can recertify its Division I athletics status, but the University is making sure its two cents are heard.

The University released a year-long, campuswide self-study of its athletics program Friday in hopes of garnering its second NCAA Division I athletics recertification.

The NCAA requires all Division I athletics programs to undergo the process every 10 years. The University was last certified in February 2001. The NCAA began certifying programs in 1993.

The University isn’t concerned that it won’t be certified, but it’s necessary to undergo the process nonetheless, said Lynn Holleran, associate to the University’s vice president chief of staff.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to make sure that athletics is aligned and integrated with the rest of the University mission,” she said.

Graduation rates, academics and diversity were the main areas that needed improvement, according to the report.

Regina Sullivan, senior associate athletics director, said she didn’t think one area was more concerning than another.

“In my mind, they’re all equitable,” she said.

The study’s main topics included governance and rules compliance, academic integrity and equity and student-athlete well-being. Subcommittees were formed to address each area and included student-athlete representatives. The groups began gathering information for the study in August.

on the web

For the complete timeline and self-study report, visit metadot/ University students, faculty and staff, and community members can submit feedback online. Each message will be reviewed and considered.

Gophers men’s basketball and football teams received substandard Academic Progress Rates, according to an NCAA report released in 2007.

Many of the biggest changes in the athletics department over the last decade came after the men’s basketball academic fraud scandal in 1999, Sullivan said.

Now, athletics offices report to the Office of the General Counsel and the Provost’s office, rather than internally, she said.

“It’s not the normal model,” Sullivan said. “I think more schools are going that way than previously and we were at the front of that.”

In addition, she said merging the men’s and women’s athletics departments in 2002 was beneficial to Gopher athletics as a whole.

Several groups’ input, in addition to that of University faculty, staff and students, was included in the study to ensure campus-wide transparency about the recertification process.

The Minnesota Student Association and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly were two of the groups consulted.

Emma Olson, MSA president, served on the academic integrity subcommittee and said it was important for the public to see how the self-study plays a role in recertification.

“If you were to recertify and just send in a form,” she said, “you wouldn’t really get the full effect of having a formal study with all the major players involved.”

A final report will be submitted to the NCAA in May. The report is available for public review and feedback until March 24.

Sullivan said public responses to the study won’t go unnoticed.

“Obviously, we’re not going to implement every recommendation that’s made,” she said. But the final draft of the report won’t be finalized “until the opportunity for feedback has been exhausted.”

A group of NCAA officials and representatives from non-conference schools will visit the University in November to offer more feedback on the self-study.

The NCAA Committee on Athletics Certification is scheduled to meet in January 2009.