Aug. 4, 2006
LEWISBURG, Pa. - The NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification recently announced that Bucknell University has been formally certified without conditions following the successful review of an extensive, university-wide self-study.
The certification process 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.
Resembling the process that commonly leads to institutional accreditation in higher education, the NCAA's certification program was established in 1993. Bucknell completed its first self-study and was fully certified in 1995, and its second cycle was completed this past June. The university submitted a five-year interim status report in 2000 as well.
"To be unconditionally certified by the NCAA is an exceptional achievement," said university president Brian C. Mitchell. "It is a clear indication that Bucknell is recognized by its peers as having a Division I athletics program that is first and foremost a program of integrity centered on the student-athlete."
"I am extremely pleased that Bucknell's athletics program has been certified by the NCAA," said director of athletics and recreation John Hardt, "The result of our successful self-study verified that Bucknell athletics meets or exceeds all applicable NCAA standards for Division I athletics. While the certification review process was certainly intensive and comprehensive, it provided a wonderful opportunity to review our principle operating procedures and ensure the integrity of our mission within the broader framework of the university. In addition, the certification review was a transparent process involving all sectors of the university. Ultimately, our successful recertification is a reflection of the continued outstanding work of Bucknell's leadership, student-athletes, coaches, faculty, and staff."
Gary Sojka, professor of biology, Bucknell's former NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative and president emeritus, served as chair of the self-study steering committee, while additional membership was drawn from the university's faculty and staff, athletics department personnel, student-athletes, student government, and Board of Trustees, as well as the Patriot League staff.
The purpose of the NCAA's athletics certification program is to open the affairs of athletics programs to the public; to establish standards, or operating principles, for the operation of a Division I athletics program; and to impose tough sanctions on institutions that fail to conduct a comprehensive self-study or to correct problems.
The core of athletics certification is the institution's self-study, in which campus-wide participation is critical. The NCAA Committee on Athletics Certification hopes that an effective self-study benefits an institution in three ways:
1. Self-awareness. The self-study offers a unique opportunity to educate individuals across the campus about the athletics program's goals and purposes, the many challenges facing athletics and the ways in which athletics supports the institution's mission.
2. Affirmation. Athletics certification is couched in the affirmative -- its aim, after all, is to certify -- and the self-study process will reveal many aspects of the athletics program worthy of praise.
3. Opportunities to improve. Even an outstanding program can be better, and problems will be identified routinely as part of any institution's self-study. As these problems come to light, the self-study process will offer a forum for suggestions from individuals with a wide range of experience.
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 Jon Steinbrecher, Ohio Valley Conference.
Bucknell is a highly-selective, privately endowed liberal arts institution with an enrollment of approximately 3,400 undergraduate students. Bucknell competes in NCAA Division I as a member of the Patriot League and has full membership along with American, Army, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh and Navy. Bucknell has won the Presidents' Cup, signifying the Patriot League's all-sports champion, in 12 of 16 years.
Bucknell annually ranks among the national leaders in graduation rate of its student athletes, and three times Bucknell has ranked first in the nation in graduation rates. In addition, Bucknell ranks fourth in Division I in the total number of ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America selections, with 111 national honorees since 1970.