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September 28, 2001

Athletics study under way

NCAA re-certification sought

by Diana Pounds
Teams of ISU faculty, staff and students are 18 months into a lengthy study of the athletics program. The study is part of the NCAA Division I certification process -- a process similar to the accreditation review for academic programs.

"It can be every bit as rigorous as accreditation," said senior associate athletic director Elaine Hieber. "The process requires months of study and documentation, followed by a four-day campus visit by an external team of reviewers. The entire process can take 18 months to two years."

A 21-member steering committee, co-chaired by ISU faculty Richard Horton and Barbara Licklider, is leading the self-study of the athletics program. Seven other subcommittees are involved in portions of the study.

"Athletics certification is meant to ensure the NCAA's fundamental commitment to integrity in intercollegiate athletics," Horton said.

The focus is on NCAA standards (called operating principles) in four basic areas: academic integrity, fiscal integrity, governance and commitment to rules compliance, and commitment to equity, student-athlete welfare and sportsmanship.

"In a nutshell," Hieber said, "we must show that our student-athletes make normal progress toward degrees and that we tend to their welfare on and off the field; that we use funds appropriately; that we follow the rules of the university, Big 12 and NCAA; that we provide equal opportunities for men, women and minorities (both as student-athletes and staff); and that we promote good sportsmanship among students, staff and spectators."

Licklider said, "An important part of the certification process is opening the athletics department to the campus community and public. Faculty, staff, students, student-athletes and alumni are working on this study," she added. "We invite anyone else who has comments or questions about athletics to submit them to us at"

The steering committee plans to hold an open forum to seek public comments on the report and the ISU athletics program at 4 p.m. Dec. 11 (location TBA). Another forum may be held when the external review team visits campus April 15-18.

An NCAA committee, using information from the self-study and external review, makes the decision on university certification. The committee can fully certify a university, certify with conditions that must be met, or not certify. An institution that's "not certified" and that doesn't correct problems can be ineligible for NCAA championship competition.

The NCAA began the Division I certification program in the mid-1990s and Iowa State received its first certification in 1997.

"Once the current process is completed, the new certification will be good for 10 years, with the NCAA requiring a kind of five-year check-up at the midpoint," Hieber said.

Information about the certification study is posted on the Web at The steering committee plans to post a draft of the self-study report in early December.

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