NCAA certification self-study begins

Contact: Maridith Geuder

A committee appointed by Mississippi State President Donald Zacharias is beginning a year-long self-study expected to result in NCAA certification of the university's athletics program.

The university will seek Division I certification under a process formally adopted in 1993 as part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's reform agenda. Certification is designed to provide information about the athletics program to the university community and to the public.

"This process has a high priority with the university," Zacharias said. "As an institution, we want to know the things that we are doing right, and we want to know where there are areas for improvement."

Leroy Boyd, professor of animal and dairy sciences and a former chair of the Faculty Senate, chairs a steering committee composed of 12 faculty and staff members, students and alumni. Additional university representatives will serve on a number of subcommittees.

"Athletics certification is intended to help institutions," Boyd said. "Through certification, the university is able to involve a variety of campus constituencies in learning about the athletics program, its accomplishments, its challenges, and the ways it may be able to improve."

To ensure that evaluations by institutions are uniform, the NCAA has an established format that each university must follow. The self-study will focus on four key areas: governance and commitment to rules compliance, academic integrity, fiscal integrity, and commitment to equity.

"Our committees will soon begin meeting and will examine these areas in detail," Boyd said.

To formally launch the certification effort, NCAA representatives will be on campus Sept. 17 for an orientation meeting with Zacharias, Boyd and the self-study committee. The process will conclude in November of 1997 with a campus visit by an external peer-review team.

"Our goal is to involve as much of the campus as we can and to keep the university and the public up-to-date about our progress," Boyd said. "It will require an intensive effort on the part of committees, and we want the entire process to be meaningful and valuable to the university."

Steering committee members in addition to Boyd are Zacharias; Kirk Arnett, faculty athletic representative; Larry Templeton, director of athletics; Samye Johnson, assistant director of athletics; David Boles, associate athletic director for student services; Marion Couvillion, chair of the Faculty Senate; Maridith Geuder, associate director of University Relations; Greg Threatt, Student Association president; Bud Smith, registrar; Bill Smyer, associate dean of engineering; Bobby Martin, alumni representative and president of The People's Bank of Ripley; and Sandra Harpole, professor of physics.

Dr. Billy Ward, vice president for institutional advancement, will serve as the committee's liaison to the NCAA.

NCAA regulations specify that the institution's CEO, athletic director, faculty athletic representative, and senior woman athletics administrator be named to the steering committee. Other appointments were made on the basis of expertise, diversity, differing perspectives, and access to information that may be beneficial for the self-study, Boyd said.