K-State To Study Athletics Program

President Jon Wefald announced today that Kansas State University will begin a year-long, campus-wide effort to study its athletics program as part of the NCAA Division I athletics certification program. Specific areas the study will cover are academic and fiscal integrity, governance, rules compliance, as well as a commitment to equity, student-athlete welfare and sportsmanship.

While academic accreditation is common in colleges and universities, this program focuses solely on certification of athletics programs. Following a pilot project, the Division I membership overwhelmingly supported the program and its standards at the 1993 NCAA Convention. K-State completed its first certification self-study in 1996. At the 1997 Convention, the Division I membership voted to change the frequency of athletics certification from once every five years to once every 10 years and to require a five-year interim-status report. Thus, the current self-study will be the second in the certification process for K-State.

The certification programís purpose is to help ensure integrity in the institutionís athletics operations. It opens up athletics to the rest of the university community and to the public. President Wefald said, "K-State benefits by increasing campus-wide awareness and knowledge of its athletics program, confirming its strengths and developing plans to improve any areas of concern."

The Steering Committee responsible for the study will be chaired by Robert Krause, vice president for institutional advancement, and includes President Wefald, faculty, staff, students, as well as athletics department personnel. A member of the NCAA membership services staff will be on campus for a one-day orientation visit Oct. 15 to meet with the Steering Committee and its subcommittees.

"Overall, we will directly involve more than 70 individuals in the process," Wefald noted.

Within each area to be studied by the committee, the program has standards, called operating principles, which were adopted by the NCAA to place a "measuring stick" by which all Division I members are evaluated. The Steering Committee also will examine how the activities of the athletics program relate to the mission and purpose of K-State.

"Once we have concluded our study," Wefald said, "an external team of reviewers will conduct a four-day evaluation visit on campus in Fall 2002." 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 which will then determine K-Stateís 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 will have an opportunity to correct deficient areas, those universities that do not take corrective actions may be ruled ineligible for NCAA championships.