CORVALLIS - Oregon State University's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is meeting the principles set forth by the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) according to a report generated by the university.

The report looked at the athletic department's commitment to academic integrity; equity, welfare and sportsmanship; fiscal responsibility; and compliance with NCAA rules. It found that the university's athletic department was meeting the goals of the NCAA in those areas.

Under NCAA rules, Division I institutions are required to undergo a certification process every five years. OSU started the self-study process last January in preparation for a site visit by a NCAA peer review committee in February, 2001.

"From all indications, the NCAA peer review team will find that that OSU intercollegiate athletics program is being operated in a very sound manner," said OSU President Paul Risser.

The self-study process involved four committees comprised of administrators, faculty, athletic staff, students and community members who reviewed the operations of the athletics program at the university. The purpose of the certification process is to open the affairs of the athletics program to the university community and the public, to identify whether the program is meeting NCAA standards for operation, and to provide plans for any deficiencies found.

"There were three key objectives related to the certification report," said Ken Williamson, chief report writer of the self-study report and immediate past president of the OSU Faculty Senate. "We wanted to educate the community as to the workings of the athletic department. We wanted to evaluate how the department was meeting the operating principles established by the NCAA and review the sanctioning options, if it was found the university was not meeting the NCAA's operating principles."

Bob Schultz, a professor in Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering and a member of the Governance and Commitment to Rules Compliance Subcommittee, said the mission of the athletics program relates directly to the mission and goals of the university.

"There is institutional oversight," Schultz said. "President Risser has a direct hand in the hiring of coaches and meets with the athletic director monthly."

Schultz said Risser also expanded the university's athletic advisory board to include 25 members. The board provides input and guidance to the athletic department.

Linda A. Johnson, chair of the Academic Integrity Subcommittee, and head adviser in the College of Health and Human Performance, said the academic standards for athletes are the same as those for the rest of the student body.

"The admission GPA for student-athletes is close to that of the general student body and the SAT scores are only slightly lower," she said. "The graduation rate for student-athletes is in line with the rest of the university. Those student athletes that exhaust their eligibility while at OSU have a 91 percent graduate rate."

Johnson said the academic support to athletes is probably greater than that provided the rest of the student body.

"Student-athletes aren't advised by the athletic department regarding their choice of classes," Johnson said. "They are advised by academic advisers like other students on campus."

Karen Steele, chair of the Fiscal Integrity Subcommittee and associate director of Business Affairs, said both the income and expenditures were reviewed for the athletic department.

"We identified all of the revenue sources and expenditures," she said. "They go through the same process as the rest of the university."

Steele said the athletic department payroll is approved by Rob Specter, vice president for Finance and Administration. She said the department is required to have a balanced budget and that Specter and Bob DeCarolis, senior associate athletic director, meet monthly to review finances.

"An outside auditor performs an agreed-upon-procedures review annually as required by the NCAA," Steele said.

Susan Shaw, chair of the Commitment to Equity, Welfare and Sportsmanship Subcommittee and assistant professor in Women Studies, said the department is meeting the requirements for gender equity and minority issues.

Shaw said it was recommended that a Gender/Minority Equity Task Force be established to provide oversight on that issue and that the number of educational activities and programs be expanded for student-athletes.

Williamson said several public meetings were held and the public had an opportunity to comment on the report, which will be forwarded to the NCAA for its review prior to the February campus visit by the peer-review team.

"I have read the draft report and I am very pleased with the thoroughness of the analysis," Risser said. "The committee, under the leadership of Ken Williamson, performed its work with detailed due diligence and all us in the OSU community will benefit from the committee's good work."

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Paul Risser, 541-737-4133