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NCAA Certification Underway

UC Riverside Kicks Off NCAA Certification Drive

Yearlong, Campus Wide Effort for NCAA Div. I Certification Underway

(May 24, 2003)

UC Riverside Tennis Player Kelly Takeshita

UC Riverside Tennis Player Kelly Takeshita

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Chancellor France A. Córdova announced that the University of California, Riverside has begun a year-long, campus-wide effort to study its athletics program as part of the NCAA Division I certification program. Specific areas the study will cover are academic and fiscal integrity, governance, rules compliance, as well as commitment to equity, student-athlete welfare and sportsmanship.

While academic accreditation is common in higher education, this program focuses solely on the quality of athletics programs. The certification program’s purpose is to help ensure integrity in the institution’s athletics operations. It opens up athletics to the rest of the university community and to the public. Institutions will benefit by increasing campus-wide awareness and knowledge of the athletics program, confirming its strengths and developing plans to improve areas of concern.

“It is very important that we demonstrate that we’re in compliance with all the NCAA rules and that we have the integrity needed to compete at the intercollegiate level in Division I,” said UC Riverside Athletic Director Stan Morrison. “It’s a big change to Division I, for instance our budget has gone from roughly $1.5 million to $5.5 million in the past five years.”

Following a pilot project, the Division I membership overwhelmingly supported the program and its standards at the 1993 NCAA Convention. At the 1997 Convention the Division I membership voted to change the frequency of athletic certification from every five years to once every 10 years and to require a five-year interim-status report. UC Riverside became an NCAA Division I institution in Fall 2001, so the current self-study will be the first certification process for the campus.

A Steering Committee at UC Riverside is responsible for the study and includes Chancellor France A. Córdova; Dr. Robert W. Gill, Executive Assistant to the chancellor and chair of the steering committee; and 18 other faculty, staff, and students, including Athletics Department staff. A member of the NCAA membership services staff has already provided the committee and subcommittee members with a one-day orientation to the process.

The self-study review involves people across a wide swath of the campus who have been organized into working groups looking at governance and rules compliance, academic and fiscal integrity, equity, student welfare and sportsmanship.

Within each area of committee study, the program has standards, called operating principles, which were adopted by the NCAA creating a “measuring stick” by which all Division I members are evaluated. The campus will also examine how the activities of the athletics program relate to the mission and purpose of the institution.

“I think the program becomes stronger because of this rigorous review,” Gill said.

Once UC Riverside has concluded its study, an external team of reviewers will conduct a four-day evaluation visit on campus. Those reviewers will be peers from other colleges, universities or conference offices. That team will report to the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification, another independent group. The committee will then determine the institution’s certification status and announce the decision publicly. For institutions that fail to conduct a comprehensive self-study or to correct problems, tough sanctions can be imposed.

The three options of certification status are: (a) certified; (b) certified with conditions; and (c) not certified. While universities and colleges will have an opportunity to correct deficient areas, those universities or colleges that do not take corrective actions may be ruled ineligible for NCAA championships.

“Most campuses wind up in the certified-with-conditions status but we, of course, will be aiming for a clear certification,” Gill said.

The NCAA is a membership organization of colleges and universities that participate in intercollegiate athletics. The primary purpose of the association is to maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the educational program, and the athlete as an integral part of the student body. Activities of the NCAA membership include formulating rules of play for NCAA sports, conducting national championships, adopting and enforcing standards of eligibility, and studying all phases of intercollegiate athletics.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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