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.

About Samford University – Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 4th among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,619 students from 44 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.