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Academics group focuses on misconduct issues

New committee works to refine its role within NCAA

The NCAA Division I Committee on Academics continued discussions about academic misconduct, focusing on questions that both clarify and distinguish the appropriate role of the NCAA. The committee met April 15-17 in Indianapolis.

The committee was created in January as part of the new Division I governance structure, though its duties mirror many assigned to two former Division I committees, the Committee on Academic Performance and the Academic Cabinet. As it gets its start, the committee is focused on several issues related to academic misconduct, including:

  • Defining ‘institutional staff member” when determining whether an instance of academic misconduct is also an NCAA violation.
  • Deciding the appropriate language to reflect instances of obvious inappropriate academic assistance provided by a member school.
  • Discussing the role of athletics department and institution-wide academic misconduct policies in draft legislation.

As part of its work to draft legislation to better clarify instances of academic misconduct that should be reported to and addressed by the NCAA, the committee has consulted with numerous governance bodies, conferences and external associations. Additionally, a member of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions attended the group’s meeting and shared the infractions committee’s perspective on how the rules currently work and ideas for possible changes.

The Committee on Academics will continue to refine concepts with feedback from the membership. The group hopes to recommend legislation to the Division I Council for sponsorship in the 2015-16 legislative cycle.

In addition to academic misconduct, the committee also began initial discussions on a number of issues it could consider in the future.

  • Nontraditional course work, specifically related to online course work. In the past few years, the Academic Cabinet studied the issue at length, and several pieces of legislation allowing student-athletes to participate in nontraditional course work and count it toward their eligibility have been adopted. The committee noted that while the current standards seem appropriate, there was a desire to survey NCAA members to explore whether student-athletes are on campus or are taking classes in other locations.
  • Continuing the academic reform efforts to help improve the academic experience for student-athletes. The committee recognized the NCAA Division I Board of Directors may look at similar concepts at its April 30 meeting. In anticipation of this discussion, the committee highlighted potential areas of focus:
    • Providing additional support for at-risk student-athletes.
    • Providing flexibility in progress-toward-degree rules to student-athletes who will graduate early or are academically high-achieving.
    • Improving student-athlete satisfaction with their academic and educational experience.
  • Authority to sponsor academics-related legislation in the new governance structure. This new committee, formed by combining the roles of the former Committee on Academic Performance and the Academic Cabinet, does not have the ability to sponsor legislation. Previously, the Academic Cabinet had been able to sponsor legislation, though the Committee on Academics did not have that authority. The Committee on Academics believes academics practitioners – including the presidents who serve on the committee – should have the same opportunity to sponsor legislation for membership consideration as the other practitioners on the Division I Council. Current legislation requires the Committee on Academics to send proposals to the Council, which may elect whether to sponsor the legislation.

The committee will reconvene June 23-24 in Indianapolis.