1999-2000 University Council Committee on Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics
April 15, 2000
During the 1999-2000 academic year the University Committee on Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics (CRIA) was charged with: (1) Using the Brailsford & Dunlavey (B&D) report, review the University's progress toward improving recreational facilities. Make recommendations as to how Penn can achieve its stated goals in this area and how new facilities should be evaluated; (2) Continue to assess the effectiveness of the University's advising system for athletes to ensure they are in compliance with University policies, including those on drug use, NCAA requirements and other policies, with a particular focus on the education and awareness components of the system. In evaluating policies and practices related to student-athletes, ensure that the spirit as well as the letter of the NCAA's policies are followed; and (3) In conjunction with the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid, review the status of student-athlete admissions, focusing on the numbers of student-athletes admitted and their subsequent graduation rates.
CRIA met four times with the Director and the appropriate Associate/Assistant Directors of the Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics (DRIA) for discussions on (1) recent improvements in the University's recreational and intercollegiate athletic facilities as well as the division's additional short-term and long-term facility needs, (2) the University's admissions and advising system for student-athletes, and (3) the continued improvements in the DRIA's academic and drug compliance systems.
Improving Recreational Facilities
In November of 1996, the University of Pennsylvania engaged B&D to evaluate its existing recreation facilities. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which the University is meeting the demand for recreational sports and fitness activities among its student and faculty/staff populations. The B&D study (completed, August 1997) concluded that the University had 74,000 square feet of space dedicated for indoor recreation but would require a three-fold increase to 220,000 square feet meet current demand. As a result of the B&D study, a vigorous building plan, supported by the University's strategic plan, The Agenda for Excellence, was initiated to fulfill these needs. The Katz Fitness Center was opened in Gimbel Gym in September 1998 resulted in an increase of 7,900 square feet of recreation space.
In April 1999, a gift to the University from David Pottruck was made to establish the David S. Pottruck Health and Fitness Center. Construction of the Pottruck Center will involve renovation of existing Gimbel Gym space as well as new construction. The plan is to give the gym a "different look." Skylights and more glass will be installed so that there will be more natural lighting. Rooms will be divided for different uses with flexibility built in for programming. Racquetball courts will be built, as it is a popular sport for college students. Plans also allow the basketball courts to be reconfigured for volleyball.
In addition to updating Gimbel facilities, the Pottruck Center will contain many new recreation features not currently available on campus. An indoor jogging track for recreational running will be placed above the current basketball court. There will also be climbing walls, a golf course simulator, and a martial arts room. There also are plans for a juice bar and a pro shop. With completion of this new facility, the University will have a total of 180,000 square feet, just 40,000 square feet short of the 220,000 square feet recommended by B&D, available for exclusive use of its students and faculty/staff.
It is to be expected that decreases the current levels of recreation support will occur as a result of the Pottruck construction project. CRIA recommends that a plan be developed such that there will be minimal impact on this student recreation venue while accomplishing construction goals in a timely fashion.
Finally, the B&D report indicated the University's need of a field house. The momentum generated by the University's support of this initiative under its Agenda for Excellence is evidenced by its approval of site feasibility and fiscal/development studies. It is hoped that further action on this issue can be taken in the near future. Construction of this much-needed facility will benefit both recreation and intercollegiate athletic programs. CRIA supports with utmost enthusiasm.
NCAA Compliance Issues
The University is currently represented by almost 1000 student-athletes who compete in over 33 varsity sports. At the level of intercollegiate competition, athletic eligibility is governed, with increasing stringency, by the: 1) the NCAA; 2) the Ivy League and 3) the University. The complexity of today's requirements as well as the size of Penn's intercollegiate athletic program poses a major task for the DRIA. Each team member is provided with a copy of the UP Student-Athlete Handbook. This publication is designed to make student-athletes aware of important issues such as eligibility rules and drug screening.
To ensure student-athlete eligibility/compliance, the University has in place a compliance/eligibility monitoring system. The Registrar's Office produces a daily report Monday-Friday, which is designed to identify student-athletes who drop below full-time enrollment. These reports are reviewed daily by at least three DRIA Staff: the Eligibility/Compliance Intern, the Compliance Coordinator, and the Associate Athletic Director who is responsible for oversight of compliance and eligibility issues. If a student-athlete is not full-time, the student and coach are notified immediately and the student is declared ineligible until the registration issue is resolved. This system has worked well over the past two years and CRIA strongly urges it be continued.
University of Pennsylvania academic norms are among the most rigid in the Ivy League. The University has in place an Eligibility Committee comprised of eligibility officers from each school and chaired by the Institutional Eligibility Officer. Each student-athlete is expected to make satisfactory progress towards competition of degree requirements (credits) and must be in good academic standing (cumulative GPA) to be eligible for varsity intercollegiate athletic competition. This requires each student-athlete to complete an average of 8 credits of course work per year of full-time enrollment, and achieve a cumulative 2.0 GPA. A student-athlete, whose academic performance fails to meet the University's prescribed norm, while satisfying the NCAA and Ivy League eligibility requirements, may be declared "provisionally eligible" if he or she has not previously utilized provisional eligibility. A student-athlete may use "Provisional Eligibility" once during his or her collegiate career.
Provisionally eligibility brings with it the requirement that the student-athlete enter an academic enhancement plan. The plan is a contract between the student and the University to whereby the milestones that are necessary for the student to achieve the University's academic norm are formally identified. The student-athlete, coach, assistant athletic director, and the institutional eligibility officer sign the contract. If at the end of the year of provisional eligibility the student does not meet the prescribed norms, (s)he becomes ineligible for the next year. Provisional Eligibility/Academic Enhancement has enjoyed a success rate of 80-90%. CRIA applauds DRIA and the University for a program that enables 20-30 student-athletes per year who might not receive a degree from the University of Pennsylvania to achieve their goal.
The NCAA has overall cognizance of drug testing of collegiate athletes and requires student-athletes to sign the NCAA Drug Testing Consent form, which allows for the screening for banned substances in the athlete's urine. This form must be signed by the student-athlete not later than the earlier of the start of competition of the forth week or classes. In the sports of football and track and field athletes are subject to year-round basis while athletes who compete in other sports are subject only to random testing at NCAA championship events.
The NCAA policy on drugs and the drug testing program are covered each fall with student-athletes as part of the annual eligibility review session. This session is mandated by NCAA bylaws and is conducted by the DRIA compliance coordinator or designee. A review of the NCAA drug testing procedures offered to all teams selected for participation in NCAA championships. In all sports except basketball, in which the compliance coordinator conducts the review, coaches may conduct the review.
To examine the charge concerning a review of student-athlete admissions, CRIA formed a subcomittee, chaired by Professor Warren Seider, and met with a corresponding subcomittee from Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid.
Initially, the CRIA had devoted a meeting to a discussion with Assistant Director of the Athletics, Rosemarie Burnett, who: (1) described how she works with the coaches to identify the best student-athletes to be considered by the Admissions Office, (2) discussed the Academic Index, and (3) described the one-day "slates" at which student-athletes are considered for admissions by the Admissions Office. The CRIA/CAFA subcommittees then met with Martin Bonilla, Regional Director for Undergraduate Admissions, and Ms. Burnett to learn more about student-athlete admissions.
Together with the coaches, Ms. Burnett assembles promising candidates for an initial evaluation by the Admissions Office, where an Academic Index (AI) is computed for each prospective student-athlete. The AI is a measure that sums equal weightings (on a scale from 20 80) of the SAT I (Math and Verbal), SAT II (equivalent of Achievement Exams), and CRC (converted rank in class) scores. All schools in the Ivy League agree to use the AI for student-athletes and have set the lower bound for admissions at 169. Based upon this assessment, the Athletics Department refines its priority list of student-athletes to be considered for acceptance by the Admissions Office. It is important to note that the Admissions Office using the Predictive Index (PI), which is a more comprehensive measure than the AI and is used to evaluate all applicants to Penn, also evaluates all student-athletes. Together, these two measures ensure that student-athletes meet Penn's rigorous academic standards.
All student-athletes are considered for admissions initially in the general applicant pool. Then, after the entire pool has been evaluated, the student-athletes that were not admitted are considered. In December, this is accomplished through the Early Admissions process. This year, approximately 100 student-athletes were early admits. Then again, in late March, after the regular admissions consideration, an entire day is devoted to student-athletes. Because of thorough evaluation, many student athletes are accepted before the Admissions Office holds its two student-athlete slates. This year, approximately 300 were proposed by the Athletics Department for regular admissions consideration, with about 280 admitted. Combined with the early admits, a total of 380 student-athletes were admitted.
It is anticipated that about 70% of these student-athletes admitted will matriculate, yielding about 270 student-athletes in the freshman class. The matriculation fraction is high because close communications with the applicants by the coaches winnows disinterested applicants throughout the process. Also, very few student-athletes are "wait-listed" (approximately 5 this year) and no applications are reconsidered after the slate in late-March.
CRIA believes that student-athlete admissions are being carried out effectively, with careful attention to academic standards. We recognize that 270 matriculants will comprise approximately 11.5% of the freshman class. Note that student-athletes also comprise 11.5% of the entire student body. While not specifically discussed, the members of the CRIA/CAFA subcommittee were not critical of this percentage.
The NCAA no longer requires retention figure/graduation rate reporting of student-athletes. Both Admissions and DRIA do not keep data and were unaware of specific problems associated with student-athletes. None of the committee members were aware of special problems. If the University Council Steering Committee feels that this deserves consideration in the future, a vehicle will need to be identified to obtain this data for comparison with University-wide retention data.
Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 3, September 12, 2000