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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI granted NCAA Division I athletics certification

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Designation marks second straight successful review of URI


KINGSTON, R.I. -- August 29, 2005 -- After an 18-month process that involved a broad range of campus groups and individuals, the University of Rhode Island’s athletics program has been re-certified by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The NCAA’s Division I Committee on Athletics Certification announcement this month said URI was among 19 Division I schools that went through the second round of athletics certification. URI was first awarded NCAA certification seven years ago.

NCAA certification means that an institution operates its athletics program in substantial conformity with operating principles adopted by NCAA Division I members. The designation is based on an extensive self-study that involves every facet of campus life and a visit from an NCAA peer review team, which visited URI in May.

Eleven other schools were granted certification, including the College of William and Mary, Michigan State University, University of Kentucky, University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill.

Seven other institutions were certified with conditions, meaning that full certification would be withheld until certain problems were corrected.

The purpose of certification is to ensure integrity and to assist in improving a university’s athletics program. The NCAA mandated the certification program in 1993.

“With ever greater attention being paid to the athletics operations at colleges and universities, such a re-certification decision by the NCAA about the University’s program is something about which students, faculty, staff and alumni should be proud,” said URI President Robert L. Carothers. “We have a dedicated team of administrators and coaches who are committed to the highest standards of intercollegiate sport. I congratulate the Steering Committee and all of those connected with this process.”

Abu Bakr, executive assistant to the president and director of planning services and professional development at URI, chaired the certification process. He said the certification is testimony to the hard work and integrity of the Department of Athletics and those who served on the self-study team.

“The self-study is the critical part of the certification process,” Bakr said. “From the members of the steering committee to the chairs of the subcommittees, we had a team that was meticulous in its work to gather data, conduct interviews and write the various portions of the self-study report. Because we had such a strong commitment, the exercise was a beneficial process for the University as a whole and its athletics department. The process showed just how well our athletics program performs in terms of NCAA operating principles.”

URI Director of Athletics Tom McElroy is pleased with the process and the results. “The certification decision by the NCAA shows URI’s commitment to and compliance with NCAA Division I national standards,” McElroy said. “Everyone connected with the process, from the steering committee to the Athletics Department staff, worked extremely hard to make this happen.”

As a result of the self-study, a minority and gender equity plan was written that called for a Title IX audit. The University hired the firm Lamar Daniel Inc. of Fayetteville, Ga., to study URI’s compliance with the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in education. The firm has completed its study and the University is awaiting the results.

“One of the most important results of the self-study was the recommendation for the Title IX audit,” Bakr said. “This will allow the University to think and act strategically when it comes to Title IX and to set realistic goals in relation to our resources.”

The NCAA self-study process included a review of the following primary areas:

• Governance and rules compliance, which was chaired by Harry Amaral, URI director of enrollment services;
• Academic integrity, chaired by Judith M. Swift, URI vice provost for Academic Affairs; and
• Equity and welfare, chaired by Lynne Derbyshire, URI associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication Studies.
Among some of the highlights of the comments made by the peer review team were:
• “It is clear the self-study steering committee was broadly based and that the committee attempted to gather input from the broad base of the campus and its constituencies.
• “Many individuals, not directly associated with athletics, demonstrated their concern for the welfare of the university, the department of athletics and the student-athletes by dedicating many hours and creative input to the 18-month study.
• “Academic support was universally recognized by all interviewed that had reason to have knowledge of it as the brightest star in the athletics support universe.”