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DI academics group exploring evaluation tool

Committee also discusses implementation of academic distribution

Division I schools could better identify trends in academic performance and potentially help student-athletes be more successful in the classroom if presidents and chancellors use an academic performance tool tentatively endorsed by the Division I Committee on Academics. The committee met Thursday in Indianapolis.

The committee members reviewed a tool that identifies potential data points that high-level leaders at schools could review to analyze academic performance on an individual campus, particularly to compare the academic performance of student-athletes with the student body. Potential areas to explore include:

  • Academic profile of incoming freshmen.
  • Term-by-term and cumulative grade-point average trends.
  • Retention rates.
  • Participation rates in educational opportunities like internships and study abroad.
  • Federal graduation rates.
  • Job placement rates.

The data identification tool is intended to help high-level leaders identify trends and potential areas of improvement. It also would empower presidents to more fully understand the scope of the academic performance of student-athletes and how it relates to the performance of the student body. Schools wouldn’t be required to use the process.

“Presidents make decisions based on data because it helps them to understand what is really going on locally. Understanding the landscape helps a president lead a full campus approach to academic success,” said committee chair Roderick J. McDavis, president at Ohio University. “Ultimately, schools who address issues found through this tool will help more student-athletes reach their academic and life goals.”

The committee asked the staff to incorporate its feedback into further development, emphasizing that the tool would be for campuses to use at their own discretion. The committee would not expect individual campuses to collect or analyze data.

Data reviews

At the request of a member conference, the committee discussed the data review process. Members reiterated the intent of data reviews — to help schools identify and correct issues with their data collection and submission processes.

Generally, schools undergo data review once every 10 years. However, if significant issues are found that could compromise competitive equity, the school may cycle through again in less time, just to ensure that issues identified in the initial review are rectified appropriately. The process can be time-consuming for school staff members with full workloads.

The committee acknowledged the pressure points and will examine the data review procedures to identify opportunities to enhance the process. Members stressed that the goal of data review is to help schools achieve accurate data collection and submission.

Academic Unit of Revenue Distribution

After the Division I Board of Directors approved a change to the Division I revenue distribution model to reward schools whose student-athletes achieve specific academic benchmarks, the board handed implementation of the so-called academic unit over to the Committee on Academics.

The committee discussed the breadth of its authority and the intent of the new distribution. The committee had good discussion and asked a subcommittee to study issues, including what data reporting years should be used for each metric, membership education efforts and timing.

Leadership change

At the end of the meeting, McDavis formally handed off the chair position to Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia. McDavis, who had chaired the Committee on Academics since it formed in January 2015, is retiring from the presidency at Ohio, effective Feb. 17. Before his chairmanship, he served as a member of the Committee on Academic Performance for five years. He served a portion of that time as vice chair to chair Walter Harrison, president of the University of Hartford.

“It’s bittersweet. Working on these issues for the past seven years has been both challenging and rewarding,” McDavis said. “I leave the committee in good hands and wish them the best as they work to help all student-athletes achieve their academic goals.”

DeGioia joined the committee when it was formed in January 2015.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as chair of the Division I Committee on Academics,” DeGioia said. “President McDavis led the committee with extraordinary care, and I look forward to working with colleagues on the committee to continue his efforts to ensure that our students engaged in intercollegiate athletics have the resources and support they need to excel both on and off the field of play.”

DeGioia also chairs the American Council on Education, a position he has held since March 2016. His term on the Committee on Academics expires in 2018, though he can be reappointed.