Baylor To Begin Year-Long Study Of Athletics Program

Oct. 13, 2004

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Baylor University has announced that it will begin a year-long, campus-wide study of its athletics program as part of the NCAA Division I athletics certification program. The certification self-study process will include a review of three primary components: governance and commitment to rules compliance; academic integrity; and equity, welfare and sportsmanship.

Baylor's self-study will be chaired by Noley R. Bice, Baylor's general counsel. Dr. Mark G. Dunn, professor of marketing and chair of Baylor's Faculty Athletics Council, will serve as vice chair. The steering committee will include Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr., faculty, staff, students, student-athletes, regents, alumni and athletics department personnel. Once Baylor's self-study is completed, the report will be evaluated by teams of peer reviewers from other institutions and conference offices. That team will report to the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification, which will determine Baylor's certification status and announce the decision publicly.

The purpose of athletics certification is to ensure integrity in the institution's athletics program, to educate individuals across the campus and the community about the athletics program's goals and purposes, and to assist institutions in improving their athletics departments. Baylor's last self-study took place in 1995, with the NCAA announcing in August 1996 that Baylor's athletics program was found to be operating successfully according to principles adopted by Division I membership.

Athletics certification was approved for Division I institutions at the 1993 NCAA Convention as a key part of the NCAA's reform agenda. Certification was originally introduced in 1989 and tested in a two-year pilot program. Participants generally agreed that the pilot program was valuable but could be improved by limiting the scope of the self-study. After a special committee reworked the idea over the next year, the NCAA Presidents Commission, the NCAA Council and the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics supported a revised version of the program. Athletics certification began its second cycle in 1999.

The second round of athletics certifications is being completed on a 10-year cycle rather than the five-year cycle used during the initial certification process. All 325 active Division I members are expected to complete a self-study by 2009.

The Division I Committee on Athletics Certification preliminarily reviews an institution's certification materials and provides a list of issues identified during the evaluation. The university then has a period of approximately one year to respond in writing to the issues before a final certification decision is rendered. The certification process allows ample time for an institution to consider its programs, identify problems and correct them. Institutions that fail to conduct a comprehensive self-study or to correct problems face serious consequences, such as ineligibility for NCAA championships and, eventually, removal from active membership in the association.

Baylor is a member of the Big 12 Conference and currently fields 17 scholarship sports. The university recently announced the addition of women's equestrian as part of its ongoing commitment to Title IX compliance. The athletics department will add an 11th women's intercollegiate athletics program in the 2009-10 academic year that will begin competition in the following academic year.

On Sept. 16, Baylor Athletics Director Ian McCaw released his department's five-year strategic plan to chart Baylor's future course in intercollegiate athletics. Called "Above & Beyond," the plan outlines the program's history, values, vision and mission, and includes a detailed action plan, which identifies goals, objectives and measurements, as well as steps to achieve the stated goals. The plan is available at BaylorBears.com.

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