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DI Presidential Forum seeks feedback on NCAA’s role in academic integrity issues

Protecting fair competition, student-athlete well-being are priorities

The Division I Presidential Forum is seeking feedback from Division I members on how to better define the NCAA’s role in instances in which principles of fair competition and student-athlete well-being may be compromised by academic integrity issues. The forum met April 30 in Indianapolis.

The presidents reaffirmed their commitment to defer to campus decisions on academic issues. However, they also agreed the NCAA should be involved when a school’s actions don’t align with the values of higher education and when the fairness of NCAA competition — especially as it relates to student-athlete eligibility — is jeopardized.

Many on the forum acknowledged that when a campus has problems that are systemic, pervasive and indicate a willful disregard for academic integrity, the NCAA has a role to play in certain situations. What those situations would be — and how NCAA enforcement of academic integrity issues would play out in the infractions process — would be up to the collective Division I membership to decide, the forum agreed.

Additionally, the forum discussed providing best practices to help schools prevent academic integrity issues for student-athletes.

Division I conferences and key governance committees will be asked to comment on these and several other potential ideas, including the following:

  • Changes to academic integrity legislation were made in 2016 and have not been applied to cases that occurred before that year. Are Division I members interested in waiting to have those changes applied to more cases before deciding whether additional regulation is needed?
  • In cases that have systemic and pervasive problems that show a willful disregard for academic integrity, what role should the NCAA play? What parameters and level of membership review should be in place?

“The forum wants to promote a sound educational experience for student-athletes and encourage members to reflect on the values of higher education when they take action on academic issues,” said Franklin D. Gilliam Jr., forum chair and chancellor at UNC Greensboro. “We also want to balance deference to member schools’ individual autonomy to regulate academic matters with the NCAA’s interest in maintaining a level playing field for student-athletes. We hope members consider all these things when providing feedback.”

Study of this issue began when the Division I Board of Directors identified academic misconduct as one of its strategic priorities and asked the Presidential Forum to lead a review of the issue. The forum authorized a working group, which submitted its final report to the forum in January.

 The forum hopes to collect feedback from conferences and other NCAA governance bodies during spring and summer governance meetings, and final recommendations could include new ideas brought forward throughout the process.

All the input will help form final recommendations to the Division I Board of Directors, which could review them at its meeting in August. Rule changes could be considered in the 2019-20 legislative cycle.