Areas of focus in Sam Houston State University's year-long NCAA athletics certification study will include academic and financial integrity, rules compliance and gender equity.

"The certification program's purpose is to ensure integrity in an institution's athletics operations," said Bobby K. Marks, Sam Houston State University president.

"Academic accreditation is common in colleges and universities," said Marks. "In fact, we are conducting our athletics certification jointly with our regularly-scheduled Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

"We have conducted SACS studies before," he said. "Now we are looking forward to our first NCAA study so that we may identify athletics strengths and weaknesses and improve any areas which may need work."

Tommy Davis, professor of mathematics, has been named by Marks to chair the NCAA certification self-study steering committee. A member of the NCAA compliance services staff will visit the SHSU campus for a one-day orientation to meet with the committee and its subcommittees early in the process.

Within each area to be studied by the committee, the program has set standards, called operating principles, which were adopted by the NCAA as a "measuring stick" against which all Division I members will be evaluated. The university also will examine how the activities of the athletics program relate to the mission and purpose of the institution.

Once the university has concluded its own study, an external team of reviewers will conduct a three-to four-day evaluation visit on campus. Those reviewers will be peers from other colleges, conference offices and universities.

That team will report to the NCAA Committee on Athletics Certification, another independent group. The committee will then determine the university's 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: certified, certified with conditions, and not certified. Universities will have an opportunity to correct deficient areas, but those 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 organization's main purpose 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.


Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak

Oct. 3, 1997