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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI begins second NCAA certification process

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KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 28, 2004 -- The University of Rhode Island has begun the process to gain re-certification for its athletic programs from the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Since Rhode Island earned its first certification 6 years ago, the 7,700-seat Ryan Center replaced Keaney Gym in 2002 as the main basketball and event venue on campus, and the Boss Arena opened its doors to club ice hockey and figure skating that same year. The University also added women’s crew as a varsity sport.

The primary purpose of certification is to ensure the NCAA’s commitment to integrity in intercollegiate athletics. The process requires each member institution to conduct an intensive self-study. Toward the end of the process an evaluation team from the NCAA will visit URI.

The certification program:
• Opens the affairs of athletics to the university community and the public,
• Sets standards (called operating principles) for the operation of Division I athletics programs, and
• Puts in place tough sanctions for institutions that fail to conduct a comprehensive self-study or to correct problems.

Open forums will be scheduled during the process to gain input and feedback from the University community and general public in the development of self-study certification reports.

Abu Bakr, executive assistant to the president and director of planning services and professional development, chairs the Steering Committee, which is comprised of representatives from every major division at the University.

“We have excellent representation on the steering committee and the subcommittees,” Bakr said. “Generally, we have involved individuals who are very active in the operations and policies of the University who are very interested in seeing that it continues to meet high standards.”

The subcommittees and their chairs are:

• Governance and commitment to rules compliance, Harry Amaral, director of Enrollment Services. This group is addressing institutional control, presidential authority and shared responsibilities and rules compliance.
• Academic integrity, Judith M. Swift, vice provost for academic affairs. This group is examining academic standards, academic support and scheduling.
• Equity and welfare, Lynne Derbyshire, associate professor of communication studies. This subcommittee is addressing gender issues, minority issues and student-athlete welfare.

The process began in November 2003 with appointments to the Steering Committee and the subcommittees. The subcommittees are in the process of preparing their preliminary drafts of the self-study for Bakr. After revisions are made, the drafts will be presented to the full Steering Committee.

Following a round of open forums set for October-November, the self-study report will be submitted to the NCAA in January 2005, 10 weeks prior to a visit from an NCAA peer review team. The peer review team will be on campus in May 2005 to evaluate the report and to discuss the athletics programs with various university constituencies. Following feedback from the peer review team, the Steering Committee will submit its final report. The NCAA Certification Committee will make a final determination on the certification status of the university in July 2005.

Bakr said the self-study is designed to help the University examine what it is doing well and to let the community know about those accomplishments, as well as to find and remedy those areas where the University is not performing well.