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Academics group hopes to propose misconduct legislation this year

Group builds on work of previous committees

The Division I Committee on Academics continues to dig deeper into academic misconduct issues, and the group intends to propose legislation later this year.

The group’s Feb. 16-17 meeting advanced its discussion begun during the 2015 NCAA Convention and built on conversations had by both the Committee on Academic Performance and the Academic Cabinet under the previous governance structure.

This week, members walked through various scenarios to learn how current NCAA rules would apply in specific instances of academic misconduct. Then, the group discussed the appropriate level of NCAA involvement in academic misconduct issues and how future legislation could support that level of involvement.

Discussions were guided by a set of general principles, including:

  • Academic misconduct legislation should be consolidated in one location in the Division I manual.
  • Involvement of staff or coaches in athlete academic misconduct should be an NCAA violation.
  • Intercollegiate athletics programs shall be maintained as a vital component of the educational program and athletes shall be an integral part of the student body.
  • Schools must have and adhere to written academic misconduct policies.

The committee tried to balance the sentiment that there should be deference to member campuses on issues related to academic misconduct while maintaining that the NCAA must help ensure a consistent approach in certain circumstances.

“The role that the NCAA plays in academic misconduct involving student-athletes is an issue of critical importance because of its impact on college sports,” said Roderick McDavis, committee chair and president of Ohio University. “We are sensitive to the concerns of member schools, and we made good progress in our discussions towards a more comprehensive and easily understandable approach to academic misconduct.”

The committee is eager to receive feedback on proposed legislation and will engage a wide range of stakeholders on this issue, including faculty, the academic advising community, compliance experts and athletes. Any proposal recommended by the committee will be reviewed by the new Legislative Committee. The Division I Council, which has representation from every Division I conference, ultimately will vote on any legislated rule changes. Any new academics-related rules will apply to all Division I schools.

In other business, the committee received extensive training in advance of possible Academic Performance Program penalty hearings later this year. Committee members had an opportunity to participate in a mock hearing during which they asked questions and participated in deliberations. The exercise provided a preview of both the format of the hearing and the type of information that will be presented. Former Committee on Academic Performance members (now sitting on the Committee on Academics) lent their expertise to the conversation. That committee was responsible for penalty hearings before the governance structure was redesigned last month, and former members were able to identify key documents and pieces of information that are vital to the hearing process.

The committee also:

  • Heard an update on work being done in advance of a change to the SAT.
  • Changed the way the Division I Academic Progress Rate top ten public recognition list is determined in circumstances when the recognized teams include those with small cohorts. The change will allow more teams to get earned recognition.
  • Heard an update on the NCAA Accelerating Academic Success Program, which awards grants to low-resource schools to improve the academic success of their athletes. Committee members were complimentary of the program, and many indicated they were involved in visiting recipient schools and learning about the changes the grants made possible.

The committee meets next April 15-17 in Indianapolis.