Last week, UB announced its athletics program will be the subject of a year-long, intensive study as part of the National Collegiate Athletics Association Division I certification program.
As a result of joining D-I in 1993, the university is required to undergo a self-run study in an effort to ensure commitment to honesty and equity in the university's athletic programs.
Barbara Ricotta, dean of Student Affairs and chair of the study committee, said the study will examine both negative and positive aspects of the athletics program. "We want to look at the deficiencies of the program, but we also want to look at this study as a positive initiative," she said.
The study will be run by a steering committee commanding four subcommittees and will cover a variety of issues, including academic integrity, governance and commitment to rules compliance, fiscal integrity and equity, welfare and sportsmanship. The committee will also include a peer review team composed of educational and athletics personnel, who will decide if the measures adopted by the committee are accurate and whether they conform to the committee's operating.
"I think it is a great concern. I think people need to evaluate themselves closely," said Robert Arkeilpane, director of athletics. "There are guidelines that must be followed."
The initiative began in 1993 and was supported by Division I schools nationwide in an effort to prevent infractions such as academic dishonesty. In search of a method of reform, the NCAA adopted the measure for certification to put a check on the widespread lack of institutional control among athletic programs.
The certification measure originally mandated schools conduct a self-study once every five years. This rule, however, was revised in 1997 to allow one study every 10 years and a five-year interim status report, making this year's survey the second certification process encountered by UB.
The certification program's primary goal is to aid an institution by targeting the program's weaknesses and utilizing measures to correct processes that threaten to make the system defunct.
Several schools have engaged in illicit acts, prompting NCAA officials to offer quick reprimands and limiting their sports programs' influence.
In 1998, Texas Tech's athletics program was reduced in stature as the NCAA found violations involving nine different sports. After violations including academic fraud and financial aid infractions, the program received a reduction in scholarships and a hefty fine, forcing the school to repay all revenues earned since 1996.
The University of Minnesota's basketball program was found in 2000 to harbor serious violations including activities involving academic fraud where advisors and other university employees took exams and wrote assignments for members on the team.
UB is not without faults; the school was penalized last year after allegations that former men's basketball Head Coach Tim Cohane had violated NCAA regulations regarding recruitment practices were confirmed.
Arkeilpane said that the university acted accordingly and investigated the situation swiftly.
"We met the issue head on and cleared up the problem," he said. "I am confident we're on the right track - I am proud of the university's response."