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Introduction

In August 2010, Vanderbilt announced that it would begin an 18-month, campus-wide effort to study the athletic program as a part of the NCAA Division I certification program. The certification program's purpose is to help ensure integrity in the institution's athletics operations. The self-study allows the institution to reflect on changes to the athletics processes and procedures during the last 10 years and to identify areas of potential improvements.

Members of the Vanderbilt community involved in the self-study process include coaches, administrators, students (athletes and non-athletes), faculty and staff, alumni, and board members. These members reviewed data and university policies, toured campus facilities, and conducted interviews.

As a result of this self-study, campus wide awareness and knowledge of the athletics program has increased. We have confirmed the strength of the athletic program and will be developing goals for improvement in areas of concern.

Highlights

Governance

  • The Chancellor maintains clear and direct oversight of the Athletic Department at Vanderbilt by both his participation as a member of the Athletics Committee of the Board of Trust, and by his direct supervisory role with the Vice Chancellor for University Affairs and Athletics, General Counsel & Secretary of the University and the Faculty Athletics Representative.
  • The athletics department was restructured September 2003 to eliminate the formal position of Athletics Director and have the department report directly to a Vice Chancellor. This decision allowed student athletics to function like all other areas within Vanderbilt and helped to align the vision of athletics more closely with the institution as a whole.
  • The athletics business processes are integrated into university business practices. Recently, the university delegated final approval in fiscal athletic business transactions to the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Chief Financial Officer.

Commitment to Rules Compliance

  • Each athletics employee is required to affirm his or her compliance with NCAA rules and regulations on an annual "Certification of Compliance" form that is completed by September 15th of each year.
  • Vanderbilt University doubled the size of its Athletics Compliance staff during the past several years, and the department as a whole has taken an active role in ensuring that the NCAA and SEC rules are being followed through many educational efforts.

Academic Integrity

  • Student-athletes are governed by the admission policies that apply to all other students.
  • Vanderbilt has continued to show a dedication to the academic success of its student-athletes through an upgrade of the Stratton-Foster Academic Support Center in McGugin Center athletic complex. The upgrade tripled the space available for academic support, doubled the amount of computers available for student-athlete use, and modernized the facilities.
  • In each of the past four academic years, student-athletes considered at risk have averaged GPA's well above their predicted GPA's; 37 achieved SEC Academic Honor Roll, and 6 achieved the Dean's List.
  • The Department of Student Athletics started the mentDORE program to connect incoming student-athletes with members of the athletics administration. The program goal is to allow student-athletes to benefit from the experience and wisdom of their administrative mentors. The mentors volunteer their time to help student-athletes fulfill their potential and reach their goals.
  • The Department of Student Athletics has worked to increase opportunities for study abroad experiences for student-athletes. With help from a donor, the university now funds summer abroad experiences for qualified student-athletes. The university encourages faculty to create three-week "Maymester" courses taught abroad; these courses are well-suited to student-athlete schedules. The university also encourages and helps fund international team travel as often as allowed by the NCAA (once every four years).
  • Vanderbilt has an excellent graduation success rate of 94% for student-athletes.
  • Academic support services are available to all student-athletes regardless of scholarship status.

Gender and Diversity

  • The athletic department has established a diversity committee that plays an integral role in monitoring, maintaining equality, and annually reviewing the department's gender and diversity efforts.
  • With the establishment of the women's bowling team and women's swimming team the participation rate of female student-athletes (54%) is higher than the enrollment rate of females (52%). The recruiting budget for several of the women's sports teams has also increased.
  • Minority student-athletes graduation rate is at an all-time high of 88.25%.
  • With the establishment of a Diversity VU program the freshman minority enrollment is up 24% from 2009, with an overall minority student population of 29% and minority student-athlete population of 40%.
  • There has been an increase of diverse representation on the student-athlete advisory council (SAAC), in the athletics department and on the coaching staff. As the newest addition to Vanderbilt's staff, James Franklin is the first minority head football coach.

Student-Athlete Well-Being

  • To ensure student-athlete well-being, Vanderbilt's athletics department has created a Student Services unit which includes Academic Support, Life Skills, and Compliance. The athletics department monitors travel, training, and policies to guarantee they are administered equitably and in alignment with the NCAA.
  • Student-athletes actively participate in the governance and decision making processes of athletics through the student-athlete advisory council, through feedback from exit interviews, and through other opportunities to provide input on issues of importance to them.

Next Steps

After Vanderbilt concludes the self-study this spring, an external team of reviewers will conduct a three-or four-day evaluation visit to campus in fall 2011. The team will include peers from other colleges, universities, or athletic conference offices. The peer review team will report to the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification, which will then determine Vanderbilt's certification status and announce the decision to the public.