ETSU athletics earns NCAA certification

Thursday, May 04, 2006

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (May 4, 2006) - The NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification announced decisions Thursday concerning the certification status of 27 Division I member institutions that have undergone the Association's second cycle of athletics certification. East Tennessee State University is one of 19 universities granted certification without conditions, while eight schools were granted certification with conditions.


The purpose of athletics certification is to ensure integrity in the institution's athletics program and to assist institutions in improving their athletics departments. NCAA legislation mandating athletics certification was adopted in 1993. The certification process, which involves a self-study led by an institution's president or chancellor, includes a review of these primary components: governance and commitment to rules compliance; academic integrity; equity; and student-athlete well-being.


A designation of "certified" means that an institution operates its athletics program in substantial conformity with operating principles adopted by the Division I membership.


"This certification from the National Collegiate Athletic Association affirms that ETSU is dedicated to providing a quality Division I athletics program for our students, our faculty and staff, our fans, and our alumni," said ETSU President Dr. Paul E. Stanton Jr. "I want to commend all those individuals who provided information and helped to welcome the NCAA committee to our campus during the site visit. Their hard work and diligence throughout the process helped the institution earn this outstanding report. We are doing the right things in athletics at ETSU, and this certification is an affirmation of our mission to continue doing so."


            ETSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dave Mullins echoed Stanton's thoughts, saying that improvements made over the last three years, in particular, have led directly to this positive review from the NCAA. In fact, during the initial evaluation nine years ago, the ETSU program found itself facing an uphill climb to reach certification.


            "The first-cycle study in 1997 listed 37 recommendations for corrective actions that needed to be completed by this second-cycle study in order to maintain our Division I status," Mullins said. "Those recommendations ranged from starting new women's programs and adding new administrative and coaching positions, to significant additions in scholarships, travel, recruiting, and operating funds, to major facilities renovations and additions.


            "Because of the tremendous dedication and hard work of our administrative staff and coaches over the years, many of these necessary improvements were made and may have gone unnoticed by our fans and university community. The reallocation of resources over the last three years has enabled us to make these required enhancements to all our 16 programs."


            Those decisions and the improvements that have resulted did not go unnoticed by the NCAA committee.


            "This 2005-06 certification report approves of our plans for continued improvement and the financial strategies we have put in place to meet them," Mullins said. "The fact that there were no new recommendations in this report is a strong indication that we have made significant decisions and implemented effective strategies that will now enable us to take all our programs to a higher level of success."


            Atlantic Sun Conference Senior Associate Commissioner Steve Sturek, who was involved throughout the certification process, said ETSU's report was the best he has seen in his time with the A-Sun and that the NCAA certification was deserved.


            "The decision of the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification to certify ETSU with no conditions confirms my thoughts that ETSU is being justly rewarded for the efforts made by those individuals involved in the process," Sturek said. "This was the smoothest of any of the certification processes in my 10-plus years of conference involvement in the NCAA Division I certification procedure."


            Mullins also expressed his appreciation for the hard work of the certification committee and the efforts made by the athletic department to reach this level of operation.


            "I am extremely grateful to our athletics staff for the commitment they have made to reach this level of certification and most appreciative to Dr. Stanton and our ETSU administration for their continued support in creating an athletic department that represents our great university with pride and success," Mullins said.


            Along with ETSU, the following 18 universities were certified without conditions:


University of New Orleans

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

University of Central Florida

University of Memphis

Mississippi State University

Siena College

State University of New York at Binghamton

University of Washington

Wichita State University

Coppin State University

Davidson College

Florida Atlantic University

College of the Holy Cross

University of Idaho

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick

Texas Christian University

Wake Forest University

Winthrop University


In addition, eight Division I institutions have been certified with conditions:


Central Michigan University

University of Maine, Orono

Marshall University

Mount St. Mary's University

University of North Carolina, Charlotte

University of North Texas

Gardner-Webb University

Valparaiso University


This classification means that the institution is considered to be operating its athletics program in substantial conformity with operating principles adopted by the NCAA's Division I membership. However, problems identified during the course of the institution's self-study and the peer-review team's evaluation were considered serious enough by the Committee on Athletics Certification to cause it to withhold full certification until those problems have been corrected.


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 326 active Division I members participate in the certification process.

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 hosts a visit by peer reviewers who file a report regarding the institution's resolution of those issues before a final certification decision is rendered. An institution's failure to satisfactorily respond to the committee may negatively impact certification status.


The certification process is separate from the NCAA's enforcement program, which investigates allegations of rules violations by NCAA member institutions. A decision of "certified" does not exempt an institution from concurrent or subsequent enforcement proceedings.


The NCAA Committee on Infractions may ask the Committee on Athletics Certification to review an institution's certification status as a result of the completed infractions case.


The members of the Committee on Athletics Certification are: McKinley Boston, New Mexico State University; Shonna Brown, Mid-American Conference; Rita Hartung Cheng, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Rich Ensor, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference; Kevin Hatcher, Colgate University; Pat Howey, University of North Carolina, Wilmington; Gerald M. Lage, Oklahoma State University; Leo Lambert (chair), Elon University; Fred Mims, University of Iowa; Gloria Nevarez, West Coast Conference; Frank Pergolizzi, Southeastern Louisiana University; Mary Ann Rohleder, Indiana University, Bloomington; Greg Sankey, Southeastern Conference; and John Steinbrecher, Ohio Valley Conference.