Athletics department holds public forums

Portland State held the first of two open forums yesterday to measure public opinion of the school’s athletics program, but saw little student participation.

Portland State held the first of two open forums yesterday to measure public opinion of the school’s athletics program, but saw little student participation.

Representatives were available for four hours to provide information and accept suggestions as to how the university could improve its intercollegiate sports programs, but by the end of the forum few names appeared on the sign-in sheet and just two written opinions were given.

The forums are part of a two-year evaluation and recertification process required of all schools in the National Collegiate Athletics Association. Every 10 years, each of the NCAA’s member institutions is required to review its athletics program and gauge performance and progress in areas specifically designated by the NCAA.

The process involves a self-study, a peer review and a campus visit before the NCAA’s Committee on Athletics Certification ultimately delivers a ruling. According to the NCAA, the purpose of the recertification is to maintain integrity in athletics programs and to assist schools in improving their programs.

Portland State is currently finalizing its self-study report before submitting it at the end of the month. The school focused its study on academic and financial integrity, commitment and compliance to NCAA rules, gender and ethnic equity as well as student welfare and sportsmanship.

According to Chip Lazenby, the university’s general counsel, the recertification process is structured so the university can identify potential deficiencies and implement plans of action to make improvements in those areas.

Athletic Director Torre Chisholm said the self-study has, so far, been an issue of fine-tuning Portland State’s athletics program. He believes the principal recommendation to the Intercollegiate Athletics Board is to increase the level of participation in sports.

Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Barbara Dearing echoed Chisholm’s recommendation. She said an issue identified by the gender equity portion of the study that will have the largest impact is the disproportionate level of ability for female student-athletes to participate.

Dearing said the university is looking to have the percentage of females in the athletic programs mirror the percentage of female students attending the school, and that one recommendation is to consider adding another female sport.

Other recommendations made to improve student-athlete quality of life are to improve athletic facilities and increase scholarship and financial aid opportunities.

The next step in the recertification process begins on April 30, when NCAA officials will begin reviewing the school’s self-study report. The Committee on Athletics Certification will begin a review of the report in July and a peer-review team comprised of presidents and athletic directors from other NCAA-member schools will visit the campus in the fall.

The second public forum will be held tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Smith Memorial Student Union, room 294. Students and staff are invited to attend and ask questions or offer suggestions.