Southern receives certification from NCAA

(From The Advocate Newspaper)

Southern receives certification from NCAA

 By Mike McCall

Advocate sportswriter


No conditions, no exceptions, Southern is certified.

 A year after being certified “with conditions” by the NCAA, SU’s athletic department received word that it is in the clear and fully certified, meaning it is “in compliance with operating principles adopted by the Division I membership.”

“It’s a gigantic achievement, and really what it does is set the stage for future successes,” athletic director William Broussard said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to wipe the slate clean with the NCAA.”

Once every 10 years, member schools come up for certification and submit a self study to the NCAA, which reviews the study and highlights areas of concern for the school to address before a final decision is made.

 When the Jaguars’ turn came in 2011, they were given a list of about 40 issues to resolve, and when the final decision was given in August, Southern was allowed to continue operating but wouldn’t receive full certification until it satisfied questions around academic support and gender equity.

When the NCAA visited in April of this year, it was pleased with SU’s progress academically but still needed convincing on the gender piece. To that end, Broussard and his team submitted a five-year plan that would bring Southern up to par.

“We reviewed every element of our athletic department policy with regard to gender equity to ensure that over the next five years, where Southern athletics is going into 2017 and 2018 meets the NCAA standard for gender equity,” Broussard said.

That means changes in scholarships, coaches’ salaries, budgets, recruiting, facilities and the overall student-athlete experience to ensure that men and women are on a level playing field.

It hit the mark with the NCAA, which notified SU of its certification last week.

And Broussard is quick to point out that the plan isn’t just words on a piece of paper. Southern has already taken steps forward to adjust the coaching salaries for women’s sports, budgets are being increased for women’s soccer and bowling, women’s track will see an uptick in scholarships, and female track and soccer athletes will benefit from a resurfaced track and a soccer stadium.

 "We’re well ahead of schedule with the number of improvements we have in place,” Broussard said. “In advance of submitting the report, as a good faith measure, we’ve already made those adjustments going into the 2012-13 school year. It’s not like when you sign onto a six-year loan and they give you a year to make first payment. We’ve made the down payment.”

Southern was one of 28 universities to be certified in 2011, but the Jaguars were the only ones whose came with conditions.

Now that the certification process got the ball rolling for gender equity — much the same as Academic Progress Rate penalties sparked reform — Broussard is intent on continuing to move forward.

“What this does is gives us the opportunity to do it the right way,” he said. “For so long we were trying to prove that we were capable of complying and doing things in a way that would meet NCAA standards. Now that we’ve gotten the approval, it isn’t that we’re in the clear and can stop doing those things.”

Along with North Carolina A&T and Ball State, Southern was in the final group to earn certification before a moratorium on the process takes effect. The NCAA is reviewing the program to make it more cost-effective and less burdensome.

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