Posted by William Nunnelley on 2009-04-30

Samford University will begin a year-long, campus-wide effort to study its athletics program as part of the NCAA Division I athletics certification program, Samford President Andrew Westmoreland announced today. Specific areas the study will cover are academic integrity, governance and commitment to rules compliance, and commitment to gender and diversity and student-athlete well-being.

While academic accreditation is common in colleges and universities, this program focuses solely on certification of athletics programs. Following a two-year pilot project, the NCAA Division I membership overwhelmingly supported the program and its standards at the 1993 NCAA Convention. Samford completed its first certification self-study in 1996.

At the 1997 Convention, the NCAA Division I membership voted to change the frequency of athletics certification from once every five years to once every 10 years. Samford completed its second certification in 2003. Thus, the current self-study will be Samford's third in the certification process.

The program's purpose is to help ensure integrity in the institution's athletics operations. Institutions benefit by increasing campus-wide awareness and knowledge of the athletics program, confirming its strengths and developing plans to improve areas of concern.

Dr. Sarah C. Latham, Samford Vice President for Operations and Planning, chairs the committee responsible for the study. Members include President Westmoreland and various members of the institution's faculty, staff and athletics department. Robert L. Roller is Samford director of Athletics.

When Samford has completed its study, an external team of reviewers will conduct a three-day evaluation visit on campus. Those reviewers will be peers from other colleges, universities and conference offices. The peer-review team will report to the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification. That committee will determine the institution's certification status and announce the decision.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.