May 25, 2006
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification announced decisions today concerning the certification status of nine Division I member institutions that have undergone the Association's second cycle of athletics certification, and The University of Southern Mississippi was approved for certification with one condition.
"As we expected, the NCAA certified our athletics program for another ten years with improvement needed in one area," University President Dr. Shelby F. Thames said. "I am pleased with the results showing our athletics department continues to operate efficiently, effectively and in compliance with the NCAA guidelines."
"We learned a great deal from the faculty and staff on campus who volunteered their time to assist with our certification," Southern Miss Director of Athletics Richard Giannini said. "As with any self-study, the goal is to seek ways to improve our operation. There are some minor improvements we will make to our policies and procedures which will ultimately make us a better program."
Specifically, the NCAA noted that the condition was the communication of the institution's medical emergency plan as it relates to the athletics department staff, coaches and student-athletes and was not appropriately cited within a specific section of the self-study. This was an omission on the part of the institution, as the plan and it's communication are cited in other areas of the self-study. Once this is re-submitted to the NCAA, the condition should be lifted at its June meeting.
The decisions come after a lengthy process that included a self-study conducted by members of the University community, spearheaded by Self-Study Committee Chair Dr. Joe Paul, the University's Vice President for Student Affairs. The certification process also includes a review of these primary components: governance and commitment to rules compliance; academic integrity; equity; and student-athlete well-being.
"We are very pleased with the results of the NCAA certification process," Paul said. "This self-study was conducted by individuals on our campus, and I would like to thank the faculty and administration for their hard work and assistance."
The purpose of athletics certification is to ensure integrity in the institution's athletics program and to assist institutions in improving their athletics departments. NCAA legislation mandating athletics certification was adopted in 1993.
Along with Dr. Paul, members of the University staff who served on the re-certification committee included sub-committee chairpersons Dr. Dennis Phillips, Dr. Susan Hubbell-Burchell and Mary Dayne Gregg.
The second round of athletics certifications is being completed on a 10-year cycle rather than the five-year cycle used during the initial certification process. All 326 active Division I members participate in the certification process.
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.