January 25, 2008
By Kirk Sibbald
The foremost athletic association in the U.S. voted Jan. 14 to allow Canadian universities into its membership, but don’t expect U of S athletes to be heading south anytime soon.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) voted 97 per cent in favour of the move, which paves the way for Canadian post-secondary athletic programs to compete in various sports against Division 2 schools south of the border. Although some Canadian universities have already expressed interest in joining the NCAA, the U of S certainly is not among them, said Bill Seymour, acting athletic director of Huskie Athletics.
“We knew it was coming, but I’m not interested in the least,” he said. “We don’t have any interest in travelling down (to the United States) all the time.”
According to an Associated Press article, the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University have already had discussions with NCAA conferences in the western United States. The University of Alberta and St. Claire’s College in Ontario are also believed to have interest in NCAA membership, which would allow the schools to offer full athletic scholarships. Currently, Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) only allows tuition-based scholarships based on academic stipulations (80 per cent entrance average for first-year students, 65 per cent for each preceding year).
“If some of the B.C. schools want to do it, good for them,” said Seymour. “I’ve also heard some smaller Ontario colleges near the border might be interested in it, and it might make sense for them to travel (into the United States) then up (into Canada) all the time.”
Joining the NCAA would mean vastly increased travel costs for the U of S athletics program, said Seymour, and such spending is not feasible. Seymour also noted that if UBC and Simon Fraser end up joining the NCAA, it would eliminate long and costly trips by U of S teams to the west coast.
Canadian schools must apply for NCAA membership by June 1.