Athletics seeks student input

Andrea Wilson

University administrators released a draft of Villanova’s required NCAA self-study report on Wednesday, allowing opportunities for community input before the 18-month process draws to a close this spring. Two forums open to the entire University will be held to discuss the study next week.

The comprehensive study of University athletics was compiled by a group of committees involving nearly 50 students, faculty, coaches, staff, trustees and administrators. Among the issues investigated were rules compliance, academic and fiscal integrity, equity issues, student-athlete welfare and sportsmanship.

The NCAA requires the University to complete a self-study report process for certification purposes, but the exercise is also used by the University to internally evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of its athletics programs.

“It is always worthwhile for us to have so many bright, concerned people from all across campus look critically at our programs in order to get feedback,” said Athletics Director Vince Nicastro.

Dr. James Trainer, director of Planning and Assessment in the Office of Planning, Training and Institutional Research, served as the chief report writer and editor. “Athletics at Villa-nova are exceptionally well-run, but there are always opportunities for improvement,” he said.

“Unless we were occasionally asked some of these questions, we might not think to address them.”

The report, which is 117 pages long and references a large number of separate attachments, appendices and exhibits, summarizes a breadth of decisions made about athletics programs.

The report includes a summary of the feasibility of a move to I-A football, which was determined in the report to be “beyond the University’s financial resources at the time the study was conducted,” according to the report.

Facilities equity, which has been the focus of some recent controversy, was also included.

The report points out that the University purchased a new baseball field in Plymouth Township, located much closer to campus than the former home field, which was 27 miles away. Although the team had expressed a desire for an on-campus field, the University concluded that there is no space for such a facility.

The concerns of the women’s crew team, which currently practices out of a poorly maintained warehouse in Conshohocken, were likewise addressed.

In the fall of 2002, the University entered into a long-term lease for riverfront property, where a new boathouse is planned to be constructed at an estimated cost of $3 million.

“Obtaining a more satisfactory boathouse facility for the women’s crew team is a top priority for the department,” the report reads.

“Since mid-November, we have identified a number of items that required short-term attention at the current rowing facility and made all of the repairs,” Nicastro said.

“We are moving, albeit deliberately and methodically, forward on the new facility.”

Forums to discuss the draft of the study will be conducted by University Vice President Dr. Helen Lafferty, who is serving as chair of the self-study. These sessions will be held in the Haverford Room of the Connelly Center from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday and from 2 to 4 p.m. on Thursday.

“We look forward to having an opportunity to share what we are doing with the University community and get their feedback,” Nicastro said.

The draft has been made available for viewing the University’s homepage and at various locations around campus, including the reserve room of Falvey Memorial Library, the Jake Nevin Fieldhouse, the University Vice President’s Office in Tolentine and the Financial Services Building.

In April, a Peer Review Team composed of representatives from the NCAA and five peer institutions will visit the University to conclude the self-study process.