Purpose of Athletics Certification

Athletics certification is meant to ensure the NCAA's fundamental commitment to integrity in intercollegiate athletics.

The program is structured to achieve its goal in several ways:

  1. By opening the affairs of athletics to the university community and the public. Key campus constituent groups must be meaningfully involved in the development of the institution's self-study and may be asked to review the institution's self-study report after it has been drafted. Self-study reports are evaluated by teams of peer-reviewers from other institutions and conference offices.
  2. By setting standards (called operating principles) for the operation of Division I athletic programs. These operating principles originally were adopted overwhelmingly at the 1993 Convention. They cover three basic areas - governance and commitment to rules compliance; academic integrity; and gender/diversity issues and student-athlete well-being.
  3. By putting touch sanctions in place for institutions that fail to conduct a comprehensive self-study or to correct problems. Athletics certification is intended to help an institution. For this reason, the program allows ample time for an institution to consider its programs, to identify problems and to correct them. Institutions that fail to make an honest effort face serious consequences - ineligibility for NCAA championships and, eventually, removal from active membership in the Association.


The core of athletics certification is the institution's self-study in which campus-wide participation is critical. Such benefits include:

  • The self-study is a series of questions designed to require the institution to review its policies and procedures, to submit those policies and procedures to scrutiny, to determine whether the policies and procedures comply with NCAA requirements, to determine the adequacy of the policies and procedures, to determine institutional compliance with the policies and procedures, to require drafting of policies and procedures where voids are found and to improve the policies and procedures.
  • The questions used in the self-study are probative and are based on the Constitution and Bylaws of the NCAA related to the four areas of certification.
  • Great care should be taken in the review, understanding and response of the subcommittees. The questions, although relatively few in number, require substantial effort prior to preparing a response. The analogy would be to an audit plan - simple in form, complex in response.
  • The self-study shall address second cycle plans for improvement as well as actions required by the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification.
  • Each subcommittee shall include information on how data collection was conducted.


Benefits of Self-Study

The core of athletics certification is the institution's self study, in which broad-based campus participation is critical. An effective self-study benefits the institution by providing:

  • Self-awareness. The self-study offers a unique opportunity to educate individuals across the campus about the athletics program's goal and purposes, the many challenges facing athletics and the ways in which athletics supports the institution's mission.
  • Affirmation. Athletics certification is meant to be a positive experience and the self-study process will reveal many aspects of the athletics program worthy of praise.
  • Opportunities to improve. Even an outstanding program can be better, and issues will be identified routinely as part of any institution's self-study. As these problems come to light, the self-study process will offer a forum for suggestions from individuals with a wide range of experience.

There also are benefits for the Association:

  • The self-study provides a framework for the Division I membership to show its continuing commitment to institutional control of intercollegiate athletics within the academic setting.
  • Increased public confidence.
  • The athletics certification program serves as a means to ensure that all Division I member institutions are meeting the standards adopted by the membership.
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NCAA Certification for Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118