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DI committee revises academic penalty appeals process

Changes aimed at increasing involvement from school presidents, clarifying procedure

The Division I Committee on Academics approved revisions to its Academic Performance Program penalty appeal procedures last week. The updates are designed with a three-pronged goal: to provide a more responsive and clear process that will ease the burden on schools seeking relief from penalties resulting from a team’s Academic Progress Rate; to enhance involvement of presidents of penalized schools; and to better focus the committee’s time on strategic matters.

The revised penalty appeal structure is built on work the committee did in February to enhance the APR Improvement Plan process and early educational intervention measures for schools with teams in danger of failing to meet the APR benchmark.

Currently, there are different processes for appeals depending on penalty level (or postseason access). For Level 3 penalties, the appeal process is multilayered and reaches all the way to a subcommittee of the Division I Board of Directors.

Beginning in 2016-17, the Level 3 penalty process will change, mirroring the current Level 2 penalty process. All appeals will be heard by the committee’s Subcommittee on Penalties and Appeals. Presidents or chancellors will be required to attend and present the institution’s appeal, and in narrow circumstances, the school may appeal the subcommittee’s determination to the presidential members of the Committee on Academics.

“The new penalty appeal process is straightforward and responsive. As a committee, we are pleased to increase presidential engagement early in the process,” said chair Roderick J. McDavis, president of Ohio University. “We believe this step will help spur campuswide involvement and, ultimately, academic improvement. Increased presidential participation is likely to result in schools identifying and handling academic issues a year or more before the current structure seems to produce meaningful results.”

The committee members used much of their meeting for discussions about a variety of topics that could affect academic policy in the future.

For example, the group examined the meaning of academic achievement for student-athletes, including a look at current metrics and the application of those measurements at diverse schools with a broad range of missions. Members generally were supportive of current metrics but also interested in exploring potential improvements in the way the division defines academic achievement.

The discussion about metrics and academic achievement will continue at future meetings.

The group also met with representatives from the American Council on Education to discuss potential areas of overlapping interest, including academically at-risk students and efforts to best support colleges and universities dedicated to serving minority populations. The committee members and council representatives identified access to higher education and student retention as other areas to explore together. Committee member John DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, serves as chair of the American Council on Education board.