-- The University of Southern Mississippi has begun a yearlong,
campus-wide effort to study its athletics program as part of the
National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division I athletics
certification program, required of all participating institutions.
The goal of
the certification program is to help ensure integrity in the institution's
athletics operations, examining the areas of academic and fiscal
integrity, governance, and rules compliance as well as a commitment
to equity, student-athlete welfare and sportsmanship. At the 1997
NCAA 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 Southern Miss.
our athletic department is in compliance with the expectations of
the NCAA, but this process will set goals for continuing improvement,"
said Southern Miss Vice President Dr. Joe Paul, who is serving as
chair of the steering committee for the study. "Over the weeks
and months to come, we will see broad-based input into the study
from students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the university."
Once the university
has concluded its study, an external team of reviewers will conduct
a four-day evaluation visit on campus. The team of reviewers will
be peers from other colleges, universities or conference offices,
and will report to the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification,
another independent group. The certification committee will then
determine the institution's certification status and announce the
Athletics Director Richard Giannini said there are approximately
50 members on the university's self-study committee, which is divided
into subcommittees that include a governance committee, academic
integrity committee, equity committee and physical committee, in
addition to the overall steering committee. Southern Miss faculty
members serve as chairs of the various subcommittees, he said.
A member of
the NCAA membership services staff will conduct a one-day orientation
session with the committee and its subcommittees early in the process.
is just a great exercise for the university to go through. It gives
us the opportunity to evaluate our athletic program, and we're looking
forward to the process," Giannini said. "We feel like
it will be beneficial to the future of our program, and at the end
of the day, we feel confident the NCAA will recertify our athletic