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DI leadership provides academic misconduct feedback

Board of Directors, Presidential Forum work on accountability issues

The Division I Presidential Forum and Division I Board of Directors provided input to a working group examining academic misconduct rules and policies, with the goal of having recommendations ready for review by the Presidential Forum in January 2019. The forum and board met Oct. 22-23 on the Rollins campus in Winter Park, Florida.

The forum and board discussed initial concepts intended to strengthen a school’s policies in advance of any academic misconduct issues. The working group is composed of members from the Committee on Academics, Committee on Infractions and Infractions Appeals Committee.

“The working group members have brought forward to the forum thoughtful ideas for consideration,” said Frank Gilliam, chair of the forum and chancellor of UNC Greensboro. “We had robust conversation and look forward to further dialogue when they deliver their recommendations early next year.”

The forum and board members gave feedback to the working group about potential misconduct policies and emphasized a desire to have student-athletes treated the same as the student body. Several presidents on the forum suggested guidance from the NCAA in this area — rather than a mandate — would be most appropriate, such as identifying academic misconduct areas most often seen in infractions cases and suggesting areas for monitoring and review that could help avoid violations.

Additionally, board and forum members acknowledged that most campuses already have committees independent of athletics that oversee academic policies, another concept suggested by the working group.

Both the board and forum agreed that the working group also should engage outside accrediting agencies to better understand the roles the groups play in cases of academic misconduct.

Additionally, the forum members endorsed clarifications of current academic misconduct legislation and policies as a first step. Those clarifications include explaining the penalty structure for violations involving academics and clarifying when a school may use an expedited adjudication process for student-athletes.

Strengthened presidential accountability

Both groups also provided feedback to the group working on the implementation of the accountability requirement for presidents, chancellors and athletics directors. Forum members indicated that presidents should set an overall tone of rules compliance and be held accountable for whether adequate control systems were in place to detect potential violations, not for the actions of individual people who break rules.

With that in mind, the members of both groups noted a difference between presidents/chancellors and athletics directors, given the latter group’s day-to-day oversight of athletics programs. Work will continue on defining expectations for athletics directors.

Members also indicated that penalties assigned to a school will impact a president, and boards of trustees on individual campuses are responsible for holding presidents accountable for any violations in athletics programs. The groups acknowledged that more work is needed on the specifics of the attestation.

Finally, forum members expressed concern that language adopted by the Board of Directors in August  calling for employment contracts to require that presidents cooperate with NCAA investigations may be unenforceable.

Health and safety, wellness legislative process

The board members approved a new policy outlining the process for adopting health and safety legislation applicable to the entire Division I membership. The Division I legislative process gives the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences the autonomy to change health and safety rules. The other Division I conferences then have the discretion whether to opt in to those rules. The new policy allows, in certain limited cases, the Division I Board of Directors to adopt health and safety legislation that would apply to the entire Division I membership. The Division I Council had previously supported this updated policy.