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USC Upstate Enters Final Phase of 
Reclassifying to NCAA Division I Membership

Spartanburg, SC – Chancellor John C. Stockwell announced today that the University of South Carolina Upstate will begin a year-long, campus-wide effort to study its athletics program as part of the NCAA Division I athletics certification program. 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. 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.  This is the first self-study for USC Upstate, which is being conducted as a part of the process of reclassifying from Division II to Division I.

“We are excited to be in our third year of reclassification into NCAA Division I membership,” said Mike Hall, director of athletics at USC Upstate. “Although the process is lengthy, it will greatly benefit us to closely examine the strengths and weaknesses within our department with the ultimate goal of making us a better athletics department and assist us with making the student-athlete experience more complete. It is the goal of our athletics department to serve as a positive public relations benefit to the greater University and to create more of a collegial atmosphere and spirit for the campus.”

The athletics certification program's purpose is to help ensure integrity in the institution's athletics operations. The program opens up athletics to the rest of the university community and to the public. Institutions will benefit by increasing campus-wide awareness and knowledge of the athletics program, confirming its strengths and developing plans to improve areas of concern.

“I am very pleased with the widespread support and willingness of so many faculty, staff, administrators and students to participate in this self-study process,” said Hall. “Fielding a Division I athletics program is not just about athletics, it is about the University as a whole, and I look forward to the entire campus community working together in this process.”

The committee responsible for the study will include Dr. John Stockwell, chancellor; Dr. Diane Daane, chair of steering committee; various members of the institution's faculty and staff; as well as department of athletics personnel. USC Upstate’s NCAA Liaison conducted a one-day orientation videoconference for all participants on Friday, August 21st.

Within each area to be studied by the committee, the program has standards known as operating principles that were adopted by the Association to establish benchmarks by which all Division I members are evaluated. 

During fall of 2010, after USC Upstate has concluded 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 or conference offices.  The peer-review team will report to the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification.  The Committee on Athletics Certification will then determine USC Upstate’s certification as a Division I School and announce the decision publicly in the spring of 2011.  After certification as a Division I school, USC Upstate will be eligible 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.