Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 8:13 AM PDT
Earlier this week a peer review team from NCAA visited campus to follow up on the self-study we submitted in April. Both the self-study and the visit are important steps in our four year process to return to Division I athletics. 2011-12 is our fourth year. If all goes well, we will be a Division I school in 2012-13.
The self-study was a large and complicated project. It involved over 60 people from campus working on three sub-committees and a steering committee providing overall direction. It included students, faculty, staff, and others. It was a big group, but we intentionally made it a big group because we wanted broad campus participation. For example, we purposely included student athletes as well as students who are not athletes.
The self-study resulted in a number of improvements being made within the Department of Athletics, but also improvements that impact the entire campus. In that sense, the process was very helpful and I think the participants feel good about that.
As it now stands, all Division I schools must undergo the self-study process every ten years. The self-study that we did is the same self-study that long standing Division I schools. The difference for us was it was our first time through, and something every reclassifying school does in the third year of the four year process.
The NCAA has told us that we are one of the last schools to go through the process as it now exists. They are studying how to change the certification process to make it more streamlined and less burdensome.
Having been through accreditation processes for AACSB (the business school accrediting body) and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (the accrediting body for the university), I expected a thorough and burdensome accreditation process! I wasn’t disappointed but I was not troubled by it either. It was a good exercise for the university. We were able to identify areas of strength and aspects of what we do that need improvement.
Nevertheless, NCAA seems to be almost apologizing for the process and vowing to do better. Well, that will be beneficial to whoever is involved in the next review cycle. One thing that is clear is that the next review will not be another ten years from now, as the self-study cycle will become more frequent, perhaps requiring something every year!
In developing our self-study, we received great support from our NCAA liaison, Mira Colman. Most striking about Mira was her responsiveness. It was like she was sitting by the computer (or holding her Blackberry) waiting for our email so she could respond! She couldn’t have been more supportive of us!
The sub-committees received exceptional support from Eric Guerra and Lauren Rochholz in Athletics. They took care of all the details throughout the process, whether it was scheduling meeting rooms or posting our report material to the NCAA website. They may have a different take than me on the burdens of the self-study process, though! :}
In a week or so we will receive the peer review team report and be able to respond to any issues by mid-December. In February, the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification will meet to review our self-study and the peer review report and make a decision on our readiness to move to D1. If all goes well, we will be a D1 school in July, 2012.
So far, so good!