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DI Council adopts academic integrity proposal

Alteration is first change in academic integrity approach in 33 years

The Division I Council clarified the academic integrity rules for member schools and student-athletes this week in a decision that is the first legislative change to the division’s approach to academic integrity issues since 1983.

The new rules establish clear and consistent guidelines for academic integrity issues and govern when such issues will be considered an NCAA violation. Decisions are not final until the Division I Board of Directors meets April 28. 

“These new rules, unanimously accepted by the Council members, will draw much brighter lines for the Division I membership in the area of academic integrity,” said Council chair James J. Phillips, vice president and director of athletics at Northwestern University. “The end result is greater accountability that begins with the school and involves the NCAA only in specific cases.”

The proposal was designed by the Division I Committee on Academics, based on work started more than two years ago by two former Division I committees, the Committee on Academic Performance and the Academic Cabinet. Roderick J. McDavis, Committee on Academics chair and president at Ohio University, said he was pleased the collective effort will result in more clarity for the students and staff in Division I.

“This legislation is the result of significant collaboration between the Division I Committee on Academics, the Committee on Infractions, the Division I Council, the Division IA Athletics Directors, the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics and the membership overall,” McDavis said. “The new rules are based on a set of core principles we value in intercollegiate athletics.”

The legislation aims to strike an appropriate balance between a school administration’s role in deciding academic integrity issues on campus and the NCAA’s collective role in reinforcing and upholding the NCAA’s core academic principles.

The new rules require schools to maintain and adhere to written academic integrity policies that apply to the entire student body.  Each school determines the scope and content of its own policies, and a school must follow its policies when an academic integrity issue involving a student-athlete occurs, regardless of circumstance. 

Under the new rules, only conduct that violates a school’s own academic misconduct policies could become an NCAA academic misconduct violation.  Specifically, the misconduct must have resulted in a falsification of the student-athlete’s academic record, involved a school’s staff member or booster, or allowed the student to compete while ineligible. 

Additionally, the proposal recognizes schools can’t predict every type of academic integrity issue that could occur. Therefore, some misconduct committed by staff members or boosters that doesn’t violate a school’s academic misconduct policies may still violate NCAA rules regulating impermissible academic assistance. 

The new rule defines impermissible academic assistance as academic conduct involving a staff member or booster that falls outside of a school’s academic misconduct policies, provides a substantial impact on the student-athlete’s eligibility and is not the type of academic assistance generally available to all students. 

The Council also tabled a proposal that would allow NCAA championship events to be held in states that permit gambling on college sports. In tabling the rule change, the Council noted that a policy of the NCAA Board of Governors, which oversees all three NCAA divisions, prohibits championship events from taking place in places such as Las Vegas.

The Board of Governors will review its policy to determine if greater flexibility is merited. That group meets next later this month, and the Council will take up the issue again in June.

The Council approved a proposal applicable to the Football Bowl Subdivision that would require those schools to conduct camps and clinics at their school’s facilities or at facilities regularly used for practice or competition. Additionally, FBS coaches and noncoaching staff members with responsibilities specific to football may be employed only at their school’s camps or clinics. This rule change is effective immediately.

Also at the April meeting:

  • The Big Ten Conference withdrew a proposal that would have required a student who competes in men’s ice hockey to enroll in college within two years of high school graduation or lose a season of competition for each year he delayed his enrollment.
  • The Council adopted a requirement that schools provide information to students who wish to transfer, including the implications of a request to transfer and a description of services and benefits that could be impacted.
  • The Council deregulated electronic communication with prospective student-athletes who participate in football, cross country, track and field and swimming and diving.