The certification process, which is a self-study led by an institution's chief executive officer, includes a review of these primary components: governance and commitment to rules compliance; academic integrity; equity; and student-athlete welfare.
A designation of certified means that an institution operates its athletics program in substantial conformity with operating principles adopted by the Division I membership. The certification process is a requirement of NCAA membership and specifies broad-based participation by individuals and groups across campus who are outside of the university athletics department.
UK's steering committee conducted interviews and focus groups, toured facilities, reviewed documents, and conducted a campus and community forum to solicit input for the comprehensive NCAA-mandated study, which can be read online at www.uky.edu/Home/NCAA.
Ray reported that the yearlong self-study overwhelmingly found that UK Athletics is doing a very good job of conforming with NCAA principles, while also noting a few areas in which improvement is desired.
UK's Center for Academic and Tutorial Services, the academic support unit that serves all university student-athletes, received high praise from student-athletes surveyed as well as from members of the self-study group. One example of the positive impact of CATS is the finding that, for the timeframe addressed in the self-study, graduation rates of Olympic sports' student-athletes are comparable to and in some cases exceed the graduation rates of UK students in general.
The steering committee recommended a specific plan for improvement be instituted regarding the graduation rates of students in UK's revenue-producing sports. The improvement plan detailed in the report calls for a 5 percent increase in the six-year graduation rate of revenue-sport student-athletes by 2009 and cites specific goals and steps to follow.
Todd praised the work of Ray and her committee. "In all, nearly 50 individuals, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the community, have served on committees and subcommittees related to this self-study effort," said Todd. "We appreciate their diligence and the excellent leadership demonstrated by Connie Ray throughout this process. We are very pleased that the NCAA has certified UK for another ten-year cycle of Division 1 membership."
UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart added, "We are grateful to vice president Ray and all of the people who served during this self-study process. This NCAA certification reaffirms that the University of Kentucky is doing things the right way in our intercollegiate athletics program."
The steering committee's report was accepted and approved by the UK Board of Trustees last December. A peer review team from the NCAA visited the campus in April and met with the committee, as well as President Todd and members of the UK Athletics department.