Mason Begins NCAA Certification Process for Its Athletics Program

Posted: December 2, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: December 2, 2009 at 9:26 am

George Mason University is conducting an 18-month, campus-wide effort to study its athletics program that will enable Mason to maintain its certification by the NCAA Committee on Athletics Certification.

All Division I athletics programs must undergo certification every 10 years, much in the same way that academic programs must periodically undergo a rigorous review from appropriate external organizations to maintain their status as accredited programs.

“This important certification program provides us with a valuable opportunity to showcase George Mason’s intercollegiate athletic program, which continues to be one of our institution’s strongest assets,” says Mason President Alan Merten.

“Not only is the program blessed with many outstanding teams and players that represent all of us so well, but its overall linkages to our academic arm give all of Mason a special richness that benefits the educational experience of everyone.”

Mason has a history of successful experiences with the NCAA certification process. The NCAA Division I membership overwhelmingly supported what was then a new approach to assessing the integrity of its member institutions’ athletics operations at its 1993 NCAA Convention. Mason then successfully completed the initial certification process in 1994, as well as a second certification self-study in 2001. This will be the university’s third cycle through the certification process.

“This self-study is a continuing step in our entire program’s efforts to grow, build on our strengths and represent George Mason University to the best of our ability,” says Thomas O’Connor, assistant vice president and director of athletics.

“ This is the NCAA’s recertification process, and we welcome it and take it very seriously. Our commitment to integrity, equality and academics is vital not only to the student-athletes and coaches, but also to the many individuals who support us each year.”

The committee responsible for the study will include Merten; Martin Ford, the acting dean of the College of Education and Human Development and chair of the steering committee; various members of the institution’s faculty and staff; several students (including student-athletes); as well as athletics department personnel.

On Sept. 23, a member of the NCAA membership services staff conducted a one-day orientation videoconference to prepare this committee and its various subcommittees for the self-study process. The committee is now preparing to invite input from a broad range of campus constituencies and from others interested in Mason’s athletics program. Information related to the self-study will be disseminated through gomason.cstv.com and via the university’s web site.

When Mason has concluded its self-study, an external team of reviewers from peer institutions will conduct a three-day evaluation visit on campus. The peer-review team will report to the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification. The Committee on Athletics Certification will then determine the institution’s certification status and announce the decision publicly.

The three options of certification status are: certified; certified with conditions; and not certified. While institutions will have an opportunity to correct deficient areas, those institutions that do not take corrective actions may be ruled ineligible for NCAA championships.

The NCAA is a membership organization of colleges and universities that participate in intercollegiate athletics. The primary purpose of the association is to maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the educational program and the athlete as an integral part of the student body. Activities of the NCAA membership include formulating rules of play for NCAA sports, conducting national championships, adopting and enforcing standards of eligibility and studying all phases of intercollegiate athletics.

Write to gazette at gazette@gmu.edu