REPORT FROM ATHLETIC ELIGIBILITY TASK FORCE PROMPTS CHANGES

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REPORT FROM ATHLETIC ELIGIBILITY TASK FORCE PROMPTS CHANGES

New procedures regarding the eligibility of student-athletes and changes designed to improve their academic experience highlight a report from a task force at Northwestern Oklahoma State University that was created to examine the school’s eligibility processes.

 

Dr. Janet Cunningham, president of Northwestern, accepted all of the recommendations proposed by the task force and said the work of the group will benefit the University and its student-athletes.

 

“I asked this group to not only strengthen our procedures dealing with eligibility, but to look at the entire academic structure for student-athletes and how we could best serve them,” Cunningham said. “Our primary goal is for all of our student-athletes to graduate. It is the reason they are enrolled here and we have a responsibility to them, their families and this University for them to accomplish this goal. We can and will be successful in the classroom and in athletic competition.

 

“I congratulate the members of the task force for their service and for their recommendations.”

 

Cunningham formed the task force, comprised of administration, faculty, staff and student-athletes, in response to a violation of NAIA eligibility standards that occurred last November.

 

The task force report detailed several changes in the eligibility process that have already been implemented, including:

 

  • Modifications to administrative software that places a hold on course withdraws from student-athletes until the head coach’s signature is obtained;
  • Changes to forms used to add and drop classes that identifies student-athletes and requires the signature of the athlete’s head coach before it is processed;
  • Creation of a secondary system that allows the head coach of each sport to see the total number of hours each of his/her student-athletes are enrolled in via a daily report. A master list containing the names of any student-athlete that drops below 12 credit hours also will be sent daily to the athletic director and athletic secretary; and
  • A campaign to raise awareness of student-athletes informing them of the importance of the credit hour rule for participation.

 

In addition to the immediate changes, the task force also recommended the following actions and initiatives:

  • Implementation of an organizational chart that assigns responsibility to University personnel at each phase of the eligibility process. This chart will ensure accountability at multiple points including the coach, registrar, faculty athletic representative and athletic director;
  • Adoption of a Student-Athlete Handbook that has been developed by the athletic director. This handbook is designed to help the student-athlete understand NAIA rules and all student-athletes will be required to sign an agreement stating they have read the handbook and understand the athletic department and NAIA policies on eligibility, conduct, insurance and academic responsibilities;
  • Coaches in each sport will monitor and will be responsible for the academic progress of each of his/her student-athletes to ensure appropriate, timely progress toward a bachelor’s degree;
  • A mandatory study table program for every sport with cumulative GPA used for determining the required hours per week;
  • Updating of policies related to alcohol, tobacco and drug use; personal conduct and criminal activity; and guidelines for using social networking websites; and
  • Mandatory team participation in community outreach programs following the NAIA Champions of Character theme.

 

Cunningham said she will forward the task force report to NAIA and Central States Football League officials for their review.