NCAA peer review team visits University

The NCAA sent a peer review team to the University this week to evaluate the athletics program. The University is in the middle of its NCAA recertification process, which requires a detailed assessment of academic integrity. The peer review team is led by University of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemingway , who said the University has improved considerably across the board since the 1999 menâÄôs basketball scandal occurred. âÄúWith the infractions in the past, administration has really gotten on top of things,âÄù Hemingway said. The NCAA requires all Division I athletics programs to be recertified every 10 years. The University began its self-study process in August 2007 and submitted its final report to the NCAA in April. Hemingway commended that report because of a wide range of University participants who contributed, and because it was open for public comment, which is not required. Mark Nelson is in his fourth year as director of the McNamara Academic Center for Intercollegiate Athletics . He said the University is on the right track. âÄúThese things take time to change the culture,âÄù Nelson said. âÄúBut weâÄôve gotten tremendous support to right the ship.âÄù MenâÄôs basketball and football were below the standard Academic Progress Rates for 2007, which measures eligibility, retention and graduation rates of student-athletes. The University is now submitting its reports for this yearâÄôs Academic Progress Rates and the numbers are expected to improve, Nelson said. There are two more academic counselors that helped the academic center focus more resources on menâÄôs basketball and football, Nelson said. Another reason academic integrity has improved is because the reporting lines have changed, said peer review team member Rebecca Taylor, who is also a counselor at the University of Connecticut . Academic counselors now report to the provost instead of staying in-house, when they reported to the athletics director, Taylor said. The peer review team went on a facilities tour on Monday and conducted interviews with University officials and coaches on Tuesday. Members will present their exit report to the University on Wednesday, and the NCAA Certification Committee will make its decision in February. Graduation Success Rates In a report released Tuesday, University student-athletes posted a 72 percent graduation success rate, a 1 percent increase from last year, according to the NCAA. In the womenâÄôs department, eight of 11 teams compiled rates above 80 percent, with golf, tennis and volleyball all receiving 100 percent. Graduation success rates are an important part of the recertification process, Hemingway said, because student-athletes need to be make progress toward a degree, not just maintain their eligibility. âÄúIf we fail to make that opportunity for students, then we fail as stewards of education,âÄù Hemingway said.