WCU’S NCAA STUDY COMMITTEE
TO HOLD CAMPUS OPEN FORUMS
CULLOWHEE - A campus committee conducting a comprehensive study of Western Carolina University’s intercollegiate athletics program as part of the NCAA Division I certification process will hold a series of open forums to collect public input on the yearlong effort.
The study is specifically examining academic integrity, governance, rules compliance, and university commitment to equity, student-athlete welfare and sportsmanship.
The first open forum is set for 10-11 a.m. Friday, April 23, in Multipurpose Room B on the second floor of A.K. Hinds University Center. Subsequent sessions will be held from 3-4 p.m. Wednesday, May 5, and from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 8, also in Multipurpose Room B of the University Center.
The certification program’s purpose is to help ensure integrity in the institution’s athletics operations, and the process opens athletics to the rest of the university community and to the public, said A.J. Grube, Western’s assistant to the chancellor for equal opportunity programs who is chairing the campuswide study committee. Institutions benefit by increasing campuswide awareness and knowledge of the athletics program, confirming its strengths and developing plans to improve areas of concern, Grube said.
The university is expected to conclude its self-study by August, and an external team of reviewers will conduct a four-day evaluation visit on campus in November. Those reviewers will be peers from other colleges, universities or conference offices. The review team will report to the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification, another independent group, which will then determine the university’s certification status and announce the decision in January. For institutions that fail to conduct a comprehensive self-study or to correct problems, tough sanctions can be imposed, Grube said.
The three options of certification are “certified,” “certified with conditions” and “not certified.” While the institutions will have an opportunity to correct any deficient areas, universities and colleges that do not take corrective action may be ruled ineligible for NCAA championships.
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.