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Data Driven

The Institutional Performance Program gives athletics administrators a peek at how they compare with their peers

Tim Parker took a test drive of the new Division I Institutional Performance Program while attending the NCAA Regional Rules Seminar in May in Indianapolis, where NCAA staff invited athletics administrators to try out the new tool.

Parker – the senior associate athletics director for compliance and governance at Virginia Tech – spent 40 minutes in the program, looking up data for his university, his conference, other schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision. In those moments he realized its breadth: All data Division I schools submit to the Association are culled in one tool that allows schools to access their own numbers and stack them up against other schools.

“The academic data is sometimes so dry and difficult for us to explain and difficult for us to put into context,” Parker said. “This, with the click of the mouse – boom, boom, boom – you can look at all the data and get the comparisons.”

The Institutional Performance Program replaces a program with which athletics-compliance veterans like Parker are familiar: the Division I Athletics Certification Program. Spurred in part by reforms advocated by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, the certification process was designed to resemble the academic accreditation of colleges and universities. It brought together representatives from across campus to take a close look at athletics policies, academics and finances.

The program was also a monumental task for campuses, so in early 2010, Division I presidents began calling for reforms. In April 2011, NCAA President Mark Emmert directed national office staff to find a new approach to membership data that would be less burdensome and less expensive, yet still beneficial.

The resulting tool compiles data Division I member schools already submit to meet other NCAA requirements, such as grade-point averages for all sports teams, coaches’ and athletics administrators’ salaries, and gender and ethnicity breakdowns for student-athletes. Neither the NCAA Division I Committee on Institutional Performance nor the national office staff reviews this data to check on schools’ progress; instead, it makes the information available through an online database.

An individual school can access its information or compare itself with peers, such as all schools in a conference or a customized selection of colleges the school views as similar. A minimum of eight schools must be part of the customized group before the collective data can be viewed in order to protect the individual numbers of a competitor.

The committee worked to develop a user-friendly interface through which schools can access 71 unique data indicators, plus comparisons that break down the numbers by gender, race/ethnicity and sport. Schools do not have to submit additional data for the program and will not be evaluated for what their data say about them.

“There’s a fundamental shift of philosophy here,” said Troy Arthur, NCAA director of academic and membership affairs. “We are completely shifting that paradigm.”


What can members do with IPP?

ACADEMICS: Review GPA data for all sports teams, including trends by gender, race/ethnicity and sport; review initial-eligibility data compared with graduation data to determine if appropriate support is provided.

STUDENTS: View and compare student-athlete data with peer institutions; view how your student-athletes compare with your entire undergraduate population in regard to gender and reported ethnicity/racial groups.

LEADERSHIP: See breakdown of assistant and head coaches and administrators by gender, sport and race/ethnicity and compare their characteristics with peer groups.

FINANCIAL: View how revenue vs. expenses comparison is trending; research compensation data for head and assistant coaches and administrators to compare against peer groups.

LEARN MORE: Information about the NCAA Division I Institutional Performance Program, including technology help for signing into the system and answers to frequently asked questions about the program, can be found at the “Institutional Performance Program Resources” page at

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.