With the 2011-12 academic year coming to a close in about a month, Shorter will say farewell to its long association with the NAIA to become an NCAA member — a transition that has required a lot of unseen preparation.
Richard Cowan, who is Shorter’s first-ever Senior Associate Athletic Director for Compliance, is making sure SU is staying the transitional course.
“My plate’s full. I really didn’t realize it would be this involved,” said Cowan. “We’ve always had great cooperation between every facet of the university,” Cowan added.
“They’re all good folks to work with and they’re making the transition work.”
In addition to serving as chair of Shorter’s mathematics department — a responsibility he will give up at the end of the academic year — Cowan has helped move the university into compliance with the rules and regulations required by the NCAA.
The work is strenuous for Cowan, who has attended numerous NCAA and Gulf South conferences and workshops over the past year.
On June 1, Shorter will have to submit its own 40-page compliance manual to the NCAA — a document that not only involves the athletic department, but also input from the university’s other departments ranging from financial aid to admissions.
The manual is only a piece of the puzzle as Shorter’s staff continues to work on the Year One Candidacy Member Annual Report and Institutional Self-Study Guide, also due to Indianapolis on June 1.
These documents are just the first steps in what will be a three-year conversion process for Shorter.
While the university has already begun to put into practice its new policies in what has been the first year of NCAA candidacy, Shorter has two more years of competing within a probationary period as a provisional NCAA member.
The 2012-13 school year that begins this fall will be SU’s second year of candidacy, during which those policies are carried out.
The 2013-14 year will be Shorter’s provisional year leading up to the fall of 2014, when the university will be considered a full member of the NCAA.
Throughout the entire timeline, Shorter’s coaches and athletic staff will be kept up to speed on the ins and outs in regard to NCAA guidelines.
Since January, the athletic department has hosted weekly workshops that have covered all types of topics.
The list has included academic eligibility, lengths of practices and seasons, recruiting, financial aid, and how to communicate with those who support athletic interests through booster clubs and alumni.
Also scheduled for the coaches are trips to various NCAA rule seminars, including one in Anaheim, Calif., in May and another in Atlanta in June.
While the process to become a full NCAA member is on-going over the next two years, Shorter’s teams will already be complying with the requests of the Gulf South Conference, Shorter’s new league that has included the Hawks and Lady Hawks in conference schedules for 2012-13.
“They wish us to be compliant next year, especially regarding athletic aid requirements,” said Cowan. “We will be playing conference schedules next year so they want everyone to be on the same playing field. There are some conference rules that are stronger than the NCAA’s.”
Cowan pointed out that all students now being recruited by Shorter must go through the NCAA Eligibility Center.
“There’s so much expected of the new members, more so than what is expected of the current members.”
Shorter certainly isn’t going through the changes alone.
Cowan and other SU officials have been in constant contact with other NCAA institutions, including Gulf South members, that offer advice during the transition.
In February, Shorter began working with a consultant group that has an extensive NCAA background and works with institutions going through the transition process.
“It does help to talk with those schools that have been down this road before,” said Cowan. “There are resources out there to help. Everyone has new items to conquer and we all have to communicate well in all facets of the school.”