The University of Texas-Pan American has begun a self examination of its athletics program in hopes of being certified again by the NCAA.
The University must undergo a yearlong study every 10 years as part of the NCAA Division I athletics certification program. The assessment will look at governance and commitment to rules compliance, academic integrity, gender and diversity issues and student-athlete well-being.
NCAA Division I members approved the certification program during its 1993 convention. UTPA conducted self studies in 1994-1995 and in 2000-2002.
The purpose of the self-study is to ensure integrity in universities' athletics programs by setting standards for operating them and imposing sanctions when any institution fails to address issues within their programs.
"The self-study allows the institution to review all its athletics processes and procedures. We will be able to find areas we want to improve and have a better athletics program at the end of the self study process," said Dr. Susan R. Griffith, executive director of the University's Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness.
Earlier this month, UTPA leaders formed its steering committee, headed by Griffith, as well as five subcommittees that will assess academic integrity, diversity, gender equality, governance and student-athlete well-being. The steering committee also includes UTPA President Dr. Robert S. Nelsen; Interim Provost and Vice President for the Division of Academic Affairs Dr. Ana Maria Rodriguez; Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services Dr. John Edwards; NCAA Certifying Officer Debora McMillin, as well as other administrators and representatives from the University's divisions, faculty, staff and students.
"The self-study is an extremely important part of the athletics certification process," said Chris King, UTPA's director of athletics. "We welcome input from faculty, staff and students as we complete this work over the next several months. The steering committee and subcommittees charged with completing this important self-study will produce a document that accurately reflects the activities and progress of our athletics program."
Once the steering committee completes its self-study, representatives from the NCAA will review the report and visit the campus for an evaluation. UTPA will have an opportunity to respond to analyses on the study from the NCAA's certification committee and peer review team.
The UTPA steering committee is expected to submit its findings to the NCAA in April 2011 and, if accepted, receive notification of the University's certification in April 2012.