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December 2, 1999

ULM Athletics Receives NCAA Certification

The University of Louisiana at Monroe was notified by the NCAA Thursday that its athletic programs had been certified by the NCAA Committee on Athletics Certification.

The committee reviewed written materials related to ULM's athletics self-study and the evaluation by a peer-review team that visited the campus in April, as part of a year-long certification process. All 310 NCAA Division I members will undergo the certification process by 2000.

According to the NCAA, which has implemented self-study and certifications for the first time, their decision means "that the institution is considered to be operating its athletics program in substantial conformity with operating principles adopted by the Association's Division I membership..."

Warner Alford, ULM's Director of Athletics, did not become the AD at ULM until after the peer-review visit, but he is familiar with the process. Alford served on the NCAA committee which created the legislation for certification when he was the Athletics Director at the University of Mississippi.

"This is a big step, a very positive one for the University of Louisiana at Monroe's athletic program," Alford said. "It confirms the quality of our program and affirms that our coaches and staff are performing in the best interest of our student-athletes. This is something we can be very proud of because it's a major accomplishment."

"We are extremely pleased that our athletics program has received NCAA certification," President Lawson L. Swearingen, Jr., said. "This assurance that our program conforms to the NCAA's high standards in all categories including rules compliance, academic integrity, fiscal integrity and commitment to equity allows us to move forward with confidence. ULM has been, and will continue to be, absolutely committed to the success of our student-athletes."

Particularly pleasing to Swearingen was the NCAA's affirmation of ULM's plan for addressing gender equity.

"The NCAA's recognition of the progress we have made in gender equity issues is very gratifying," Swearingen said. "The plan that we have in place will help the institution to continue addressing this aspect of our athletics program. We have done much, but there is still more to be done."

ULM began the self-study process in January 1998 when Swearingen appointed an NCAA Self-Study Steering Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics. Robert Turner, Vice President for Business Affairs, was appointed chair of the Self-Study.

"This was a total team effort, the result of a lot of people working very hard for over a year," Turner said. "We used a little different approach than most schools in that we used business management strategies in the certification process. That approach was specifically mentioned in the NCAA report and it was successful because we received outstanding cooperation from everyone, including our boosters, and specifically from the management committee of Dr. Walter Creekmore, Dr. Benny Blaylock, Dr. Judy Fellows, Dr. Rene Jackson and Ex Officio members Diane Stark, Keith Prince and Richard Giannini."

Because ULM received "certification" it will not be subject to another examination with campus visits until the next regular certification cycle, in 10 years.

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