All Posts Tagged With: "NCAA"
What students are talking about today (February 4th)
1. It’s not just teacher’s college where the number of applicants is falling. Law schools in the United States are in crisis mode after statistics from the Law School Admission Council show that the number of applicants dropped 20 per cent from last year after falling 14 per cent the year before. In Canada the number of applicants is down four per cent, which is certainly not a crisis and may even be good news considering there is a small shortage of articling positions. Bill Flanagan, president of the Canadian Council of Law Deans, offered Canadian Lawyer Magazine his assessment. “On average, tuition at Canadian law schools is much more affordable than many U.S. law schools,” he said, adding, “the job market for Canadian law grads is better in many Canadian legal markets than it is for U.S. law grads in many U.S. legal markets.”
After three-year consultation process, UBC decides to stay in the CIS
That’s the result of today’s announcement by UBC President Stephen Toope, who said that his university will continue to work with Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) on improving and reforming the association to ensure a higher and more competitive athletic standard.
“UBC has a proud history within the CIS as both a founding member and successful competitor,” he said. “But we need to build upon this tradition because, frankly, the status quo is no longer acceptable. Therefore we commit, in affirming our membership, to drive change.”
The result was somewhat of a surprise, given the bullishness of the athletic department towards moving, and the lack of movement from the CIS on scholarships and tiering. UBC and other schools have been pushing for a flexible salary-cap model for athletic scholarships, but have consistently been rebuffed, and the only movement on tiered leagues—which would allow for larger schools to play each other more often—is limited in scope, and will beginning next year. The CIS is a camel, slow-moving and created by committee, and changing it is always difficult.
However, Toope said that motions were on the table for the next Annual General Meeting to make small changes to governance and tiering which would give UBC and other large schools more influence, and affirmed his commitment to work with other university presidents to make the changes that most universities outside of Ontario have been pushing for on flexible scholarship models.
“Although the CIS has not yet resolved these issues, I believe that progress is finally being made. Therefore UBC is today committing to both honouring and seeking to build upon the tradition of Canadian Interuniversity Sport,” Toope said.
The NCAA is currently four years into a 10-year window allowing international schools to apply for Division II membership, and UBC says it has not discounted exploring the NCAA option again if reforms in the CIS don’t come to fruition. But given this announcement, after a three-year consultation process, it seems UBC has committed to reforming the CIS, not leaving it. The door to the NCAA isn’t fully shut and locked—but for the time being, it’s definitely closed.
Photo: UBC will not be joining their SFU rivals in the NCAA anytime soon, courtesy of the Ubyssey
The future of athletics at UBC is in the balance.
After years of waiting, broken dreams, and hopes in limbo, history will be made today in Vancouver that will define the city’s sporting dreams for years to come.
Oh, and the Canucks will play some other team in a hockey game.
Yes, while most in Lotusland will be praying for a win to keep the dreams of a Stanley Cup alive, UBC will be making an announcement that is pretty big of its own. A press conference will be held at 10:30 pacific time, where the university will say whether they are moving to the NCAA for athletics—or stay in Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
Joining the NCAA (where they would play in Division II in the Great Northwestern Conference) would mean the university could give full-ride athletic scholarships, but would also put a pretty big hole in Canadian University Sport, the sporting league for all Canadian universities with the exception of Simon Fraser University, who joined the NCAA last year. UBC has pushed for the opportunity to give larger scholarships for many years, but the CIS has been unwilling to budge.
It is curious that UBC would make this announcement today. Most indications—including an open letter by the CIS President—seemed to show UBC leaning towards making the move to the NCAA after three years of consultations. People within the athletics community had spoken up vocally in favour of a move, opposition towards the NCAA was less on campus than in previous years, and the CIS hasn’t moved an inch in allowing scholarships for anything other than tuition and general fees.
But if you’re UBC, and you wanted to move to the NCAA, and you wanted your decision to get attention, wouldn’t you schedule the announcement on a day when the Vancouver Canucks weren’t playing in Game 7 of a playoff series?
So, we’ll see what happens later today, when UBC President Stephen Toope steps up to the microphone. The future of athletics at UBC is in the balance.
Why Brigham Young University suspended its star basketball player
When Brigham Young University announced that it was suspending sophomore forward Brandon Davies for the closing weeks of a dream season by its men’s basketball team, many sports fans must have had thoughts of a flamboyant 51-year-old Irish Catholic who may be the greatest athlete in the annals of the school. Davies was punished for violating the Utah university’s strict honour code, apparently by having sex out of wedlock with his girlfriend. BYU, in theory, expects all students to live a “chaste and virtuous life” according to the rules of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—but Jim McMahon says it’s not so simple.
McMahon, whose colourful language and dress alone would have been enough to turn the honour code upside down, played at BYU for five years, starting out as the Cougars’ punter and going on to shred the record books as their quarterback. McMahon now recalls how BYU’s administration threw him out of the school with suspiciously convenient timing—the day after his last bowl game. “They said they had ‘just been informed’ that I was doing some things,” McMahon told Miami radio station WQAM last week. “You follow me around, you stake out my apartment. You don’t know what I’m doing? C’mon. They know what’s going on there.” The bon vivant Chicago Bears great, who re-enrolled at BYU last fall to pick up the handful of credits he needs to complete his degree, added that he “saw a lot of hypocrisy” at the university, saying of Davies that “some guys get caught, some guys don’t.”
That was 30 years ago, and McMahon, unlike Davies, was no homegrown star. All BYU undergraduates are bound by the honour code, which (unlike student-behaviour codes at most universities) sets standards for grooming, polite language and avoidance of addictive substances, including caffeinated beverages. The code applies on campus and off. But things are clearly a little different in practice for the few hundred non – Saints scattered among the school’s 34,000 students. Davies, a Mormon, grew up in Provo, home to BYU’s main campus, and led a local high school to two state titles. He is living the college experience under the unblinking gaze of his community, his church, and the administration of his university, all at once.
The loss of Davies represents a serious blow to the basketball Cougars’ chances in the NCAA Division I Championship—the annual orgy of gladiatorship and gambling more commonly known as March Madness, which begins on the 15th. The announcement of the suspension came hours after BYU was named America’s third-best team in weekly polls of reporters and NCAA coaches. The team is led by James “Jimmer” Fredette, a six-foot-two Mormon point guard from upstate New York who is expected to earn national player of the year honours. Fredette’s buffet of moves and devastating long-range shooting have made him one of the most cherished folk heroes in college basketball since the era of “Pistol Pete” Maravich. NBA star Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder called him “the greatest scorer in the world!!” in an admiring January tweet.
The six-foot-eight Davies has been one of the few plus-sized passing targets for Fredette and is the team’s top rebounder. In the first game after his suspension, BYU promptly lost 82-64 at home to unranked New Mexico as he watched glumly, wearing street clothes at the end of the bench. Literally dozens of other tournament-eligible teams will have lost good players to injury in the final weeks before March Madness, but the combination of Fredette’s national following and a slightly prurient media angle has turned Davies’s loss into melodrama. Fredette is in his final year of college eligibility and gives BYU, which last made the Elite Eight stage in 1981, its best ever chance at a Final Four appearance.
The drama emphasizes the unique challenges faced by a private, church-run school with a strong countercultural commitment to old-fashioned conduct. (See also: Notre Dame.) BYU is meant to be, among other things, an advertisement for the worldly excellence of the Latter-day Saints faith, and athletics are an ever-growing part of that enterprise. Davies, unlike Jim McMahon, could not easily be written off or accommodated hypocritically as a “rebel” and outsider. His misstep confronted his school with a tough choice: compromise the fate of a team on the verge of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, or consent to a slight but humiliating erosion of its principles. Thousands, including many who have no particular love for the Mormon faith as such, will be cheering for the Cougars to elude the horns of the dilemma.
Photos: By Bill Waugh/Reuters
Joining American league would bring higher quality sports, permit full-ride scholarships.
At many institutions the decision on whether their sports teams would join the NCAA would set the campus buzzing.
At UBC? Students care about as much as they do about the football team—which is to say, there’s athletes who care, friends of athletes, about a hundred sport nuts . . . and that’s about it.
Despite this, the university is beginning what it promises is the final round of consultations to decide whether to join NCAA Division II, or stay in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), of which it is a founding member.
UBC had held prior consultations about joining NCAA in 2008 and 2009, but they were inconclusive. The administration then spent the next year attempting to work with the CIS to change rules around scholarships (UBC would like to offer full-ride ones) and conference tiering (UBC plays too many games against small schools they blow out), to no avail.
Of course, for most schools, the NCAA isn’t appealing. According to UBC officials, only Alberta, McGill and Ryerson have expressed interest—though none of those schools have said so publicly. Simon Fraser joined last year, but they were founded with the intent of competing against American schools, and only joined the CIS in 2000 after too many of their US rivals joined the NCAA, which banned international schools until 2008.
Even if you’re philosophically fine with full-time scholarships for athletes (as a growing number of schools, frustrated with the athletic brain drain, are), the travel costs combined with the scholarships make joining the NCAA prohibitively expensive for universities. But UBC’s athletic department, which has wanted to move to the NCAA for many years, is close enough to the border and has teams in sports that the CIS doesn’t even offer, including baseball and golf. In others like field hockey and swimming, there’s simply not enough competition within Canada. When it comes to the CIS, UBC is a big fish in a comparatively small pond.
That’s not to say it’s a slam dunk for UBC to join. Far from it. In the 2008/09 consultations, 52 per cent of respondents polled in a survey were against moving to the NCAA, despite a concerted attempt by the athletic department to get as many of their athletes as possible to fill out the survey. Though there are no plans for any clear “vote” this time around, UBC will end this final consultation making a decision one way or another—the deadline for application to Division II is June 1st.
Outside of football and basketball, attendance in most sports is just as insignificant in the States as it is up here
Maybe it’s the former Sports Editor in me talking.
But, my first reaction to reading Jacob Serebrin’s post wondering, in light of cutbacks to McGill’s athletic program, if it’s time for universities “to start thinking about whether recruiting high calibre athletes, promoting these teams and maintaining stadium infrastructure is a worthwhile investment,” was to sigh.
Serebin says that “varsity sports are often touted as a way to boost a schools profile and school pride,” and it’s true that in Canada, very few university sports teams do this. But I’m pretty sure no athletic director anywhere thinks that the women’s volleyball team is going to turn the campus upside down with their inspired play en route to a national championship.
The real reason we have varsity sports in universities is the same reason we have sports teams in elementary schools and high schools—it’s part of an educational mandate to provide athletic opportunities to those predisposed to them. Multiple forms of learning, extracurriculars, etc.
A lot of our perceptions and expectations of university sport, much like anything else, are drawn from south of the border, and what we see with the NCAA. Ninety-thousand pack a stadium for the Rose Bowl, we watch it up here on TV, and then get all sorts of silly ideas.
Of course, this is flawed. First, outside of football and basketball, attendance in most sports is just as insignificant in the States as it is up here (here are the attendance numbers for women’s volleyball, to cite just one example). Secondly, athletic programs in the NCAA are big-budget, and more often than not, big money-losers.
In Canada, athletic programs are still quite frugal, provide opportunities for amateur athletes to continue their passion while getting an education, and if it spurs a little bit of school pride, that’s a bonus. Modest? Yes. Something in need of drastic rethinking? Not really.
University teams will be representing Canada when competing down south
Inside the gymnasium, the international lines forming trapezoidal keys on the basketball court are gone, replaced by the familiar rectangle and a pair of three-point arcs. The oddly long and wide lines — by American standards — on the turf football field are being torn apart and replaced by a 100-yard field with 10-yard end zones.
Simon Fraser University is almost ready to become the first Canadian member of the NCAA. It’s just coming 12 months earlier than anyone expected. “We have a unique situation. We are the only Canadian team playing in the United States,” Simon Fraser women’s basketball coach Bruce Langford said. “Therefore we kind of represent Canada, therefore there is a little bit more at stake.”
From the top of Burnaby Mountain, where the Simon Fraser campus sits, the views of the entire Lower Mainland surrounding metropolitan Vancouver are eye-popping: Snowcapped mountains to the north and south, sea to the west, all framed by the towering firs of the Pacific Northwest.
But while the concrete campus at the top of the mountain provide views few can match, it’s the rest of Canadian college athletics that’s closely watching what happens at SFU. When Simon Fraser hosts Western Oregon on Sept. 4 to begin the 2010 football season, the Clan will become the first Canadian team to play against U.S. competitors as a member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in NCAA Division II.
It’s part of a reclassification process that started in 2008 when the NCAA voted to accept membership applications from Canadian schools interested in joining Division II.
Simon Fraser, which held joint membership in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport system and the American-based NAIA, was the only school to move forward in the process.
Originally, the move to becoming the first Canadian NCAA member was to take place for the 2011-12 school year. That was before Canada West, SFU’s playing conference within the CIS, evicted the Clan beginning with this upcoming school year. Already in the process of making the procedural changes to become an NCAA member, Simon Fraser’s timetable was dramatically accelerated. Schedules went from full to empty. The NCAA rule book became required reading, as staff was hired earlier than expected to help with the transition.
Simon Fraser will compete in the 2010-11 school year as a provisional NCAA member. “The real rule in Canada is there are no rules,” SFU football coach Dave Johnson said. “NCAA there is a rule for every angle, every thing and we kind of knew that. It’s becoming more familiar with those rules. “There is going to be an educational component that we’re learning by braille a little bit,” he said.
Most dramatic in the speed up was the impact on athletes. The CIS system allowed athletes five years of playing eligibility. But when Canada West kicked Simon Fraser out and the school announced last October it was heading south a year earlier than planned, numerous Simon Fraser athletes found themselves in the final days of their playing careers.
Langford’s women’s basketball program, a two-time defending CIS national champion, suddenly had just four returning players for the 2010-11 season. Johnson’s football team lost 60 players who either had finished four years of play or decided they wanted more than their one remaining year.
Additionally, a number of SFU athletes saw their remaining eligibility cut in half. Many athletes in Canada attend secondary schools following high school. Under the CIS system, those athletes still have five years of eligibility when they arrive at the university. But the NCAA views those years the same as attending a junior college.
“It was vindictive. That’s all I can say. There was no good solid reason why they wouldn’t allow us to go this year,” Simon Fraser athletic director David Murphy said. “But it’s a blessing in disguise because it’s accelerated our ability to be compliant with NCAA rules and the fact GNAC accepted us. I was very disappointed because I knew the people, but in the end it turned out to be very beneficial to us. It did hurt some student-athletes here very badly.”
But ask those at Simon Fraser about the sudden change of plans, and while bitter about the believed slight from Canada West, there is also an air of excitement about the pending move. When the school was constructed in 1965, the administration’s intent was that its athletic programs would play exclusively in the United States. That held true until 1997, when Simon Fraser’s competition in the Pacific Northwest made the move to the NCAA.
They found refuge in the CIS for their football, men’s and women’s basketball programs, volleyball and wrestling. Their remaining programs held joint classification with the CIS and NAIA, giving them a chance to compete in both countries.
But as the costs of competing in the CIS — namely travel across four provinces — continued to rise, Simon Fraser began looking for an outlet for all its programs. Thanks to their rivals across Vancouver at the University of British Columbia, the Clan found their ticket to the NCAA. It was UBC at the forefront of the push to move its athletic programs to the NCAA, triggering the legislation two years ago that opened the door for Canadian schools looking to play in Division II.
Simon Fraser was the only school, so far, to walk through the opening. “What I found in doing my due diligence is there is so much misinformation and disinformation on the NCAA that most people are afraid of it,” Murphy said. “They only know the bowl games, December, January and March Madness. And they look at the amount of schools, all the bad news, they get wrapped up in it and don’t understand it. I had to do a lot of research and especially (at) Division II it’s about balancing life.”
The benefits are numerous for Simon Fraser. The travel costs drop significantly, with teams now able to take buses or short flights for most of their competitions. The recruiting pitch now raises eyebrows among Canadian athletes. While those talented enough to compete at a high, Division I level aren’t going to change their plans, it’s the athlete that might be going south to play for a lower-level Division I or a high Division II program that Simon Fraser wants to target.
The message: stay in your country and get a Canadian education; compete in the United States. “This is a very Canadian school, it has a lot of Canadian traditions, but Canadians want to compete at the highest level. They always have wanted to do that,” men’s basketball coach James Blake said. “And Simon Fraser going NCAA is a representation of what Canadians want to do. They want to compete at the highest level and they are at this school.”
But it’s not just Canadian athletes who are the focus. The school has a strong case for American athletes to look north, with tuition comparable to out-of-state tuition for athletes in the states. The cost becomes an even better deal if the American dollar strengthens against the Looney.
There are still obstacles to overcome for both Simon Fraser and their opponents. The rest of the schools in the GNAC are working to make sure all athletes and coaches have passports or enhanced drivers licenses for the border crossing. On campus, Murphy is working to make sure there is permanent seating for the football stadium. Even Johnson has to make a midseason switch for when the Clan play at rival British Columbia in October — using Canadian football rules.
And there’s educating the public and fans about the differences they will see between the CIS and the NCAA. “I think we can build something special here and we can be the flagship program in the nation,” Johnson said. “I think we can attract the best players from around the country. I’m an American guy but I can tote that Canadian maple leaf and talk about winning one for the country. It matters to our Canadian kids. I do believe we have the unique ingredients to build something special.”
The Canadian Press
In the face of constantly losing athletes to American schools, CIS continues to spin its wheels on scholarship reform
The other day, I looked at how Canadian universities are just starting to come to grips that some of their student-athletes just may be taking performance-enhancing drugs. Today, I’ll look at another issue which Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) has been unable to come to a consensus on: Athletic scholarships.
Should Canadian universities be able to give full ride scholarships to student-athletes? It’s a lightning rod question—at least by the standards of post-secondary education—because currently, athletic scholarships can only cover tuition and associated fees. Not room, not board, nothing else. You also have to keep up a 65% average (70% if you’re in Ontario).
Needless to say, the incentive for top athletes to stay in Canada aren’t exactly stunning. To take but one example: There are 99 players on the men’s and women’s national soccer teams. Fourteen went to university in Canada.
Last summer, Simon Fraser University decided to join the NCAA last summer, allowing the school to offer full-ride scholarships (though due to their limited athletic budget, the number they will give out is expected to be quite small. The University of British Columbia is still considering moving to the NCAA in order to attract the best athletes possible.
Given all of that, the CIS last year announced a task force to look at enhancing athletic scholarships. The model that was decided after internal consultations was a “salary cap” system, in which a total financial cap would remain in place at universities, but the individual limit would be waived. In theory, this would allow schools to spend more money on one or two local high-school athletes to keep them from bolting to an American college. CIS President Clint Hamilton has championed the proposal throughout the year.
And, after a year of debate and deliberation of the model, the CIS has decided…nothing.
The organization’s AGM is next week, and while the issue of scholarships will be debated, there’s no motion on the table to change the status quo. According to the report prepared for delegates:
Although the Flexible Model that was proposed…received some support …it did not garner significant support in its current format: (too conservative, too progressive, too complicated, more research is needed, more progress on compliance is required, tip of the iceberg and before long the cap will be raised, some ADs stated that the decision for policy reform must be made at the Presidential level etc.)
Well then. That’s certainly a lot of miscellaneous reasons. On the other hand, Hamilton said in his report that “the reality is that people do know we fall short of the NCAA Division 1 standard of athletic scholarship,” and “current policy continues to divide and polarize our organization.” So what’s going on here?
The reality is that while a few larger schools (notably many in Western Canada) would like to increase scholarships, other schools are either firmly for the status quo—smaller schools, who don’t have the financial resources. Then there are other universities that are unsure what is the best method of giving greater opportunities for student-athletes without diverting money from slightly more important matters than who can put a ball in a net best.
Regardless of where you stand, this is another case of the CIS spinning its wheels on an issue, unable to decisively move one way or the other. We don’t need (and can’t afford) a NCAA-style league, but it’s not unrealistic to hope that a stadium with a couple thousand students cheering on their school can be the rule, not the exception in this country.
That requires national leadership though. And when you look at how the CIS is unable to move in any real direction on drugs and scholarships, it doesn’t inspire much confidence.
Once admitted students must demonstrate academic progress
If grades make you a longshot for college, you’re much more likely to get a break if you can play ball. An Associated Press review of admissions data submitted to the NCAA by most of the 120 schools in college football’s top tier shows that athletes enjoy strikingly better odds of having admission requirements bent on their behalf.
The notion that college athletes’ talents give them a leg up in the admissions game isn’t a surprise. But in what NCAA officials called the most extensive review to date, the AP found the practice is widespread and can be found in every major conference.
The review identified at least 27 schools where athletes were at least 10 times more likely to benefit from special admission programs than students in the general population. That group includes 2009 Bowl Championship Series teams Oregon, Georgia Tech and Alabama, which is playing Texas for the national title Jan. 7.
At Alabama, 19 football players got in as part of a special admissions program from 2004 to 2006, the most recent years available in the NCAA report. The school tightened its standards for “special admits” in both 2004 and 2007, but from 2004 through 2006, Crimson Tide athletes were still more than 43 times more likely to benefit from such exemptions.
Alabama coach Nick Saban offered no apologies. “Some people have ability and they have work ethic and really never get an opportunity,” he said. “I am really pleased and happy with the job that we do and how we manage our students here, and the responsibility and accountability they have toward academics and the success that they’ve had in academics.”
The NCAA defines special admissions programs as those designed for students who don’t meet “standard or normal entrance requirements.” The NCAA says such exceptions are fine as long as schools offer the same opportunities to everyone from dancers, French horn players and underrepresented minorities as they do to fleet-footed wide receivers and 300-pound offensive linemen.
Texas was one of seven schools that reported no use of special admissions, instead describing “holistic” standards that consider each applicant individually rather than relying on minimum test scores and grade-point averages.
But the school also acknowledged in its NCAA report that athletic recruits overall are less prepared. At Texas, the average SAT score for a freshman football player from 2003 to 2005 was 945 — or 320 points lower than the typical first-year student’s score on the entrance exam. School officials did not make coach Mack Brown or athletic director DeLoss Dodds available to comment.
SFU was never anything more than a temporary visitor to the CIS
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) approving Simon Fraser University as its first ever non-American member may make for a flashy headline, and the story got picked up far and wide (never thought I would see the day where SFU made the home page of Sports Illustrated’s website), but it’s not being greeted with much more than a bat of the eye by fans of the NCAA’s Canadian counterpart, the CIS (Canadian Inter-university Sport).
That’s because SFU was never anything more than a temporary visitor to the CIS. When SFU was founded in 1965, it intended to always play against American schools, and they immediately joined the small-college National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), a smaller rival of the NCAA. When most of SFU’s rivals left for the NCAA in the mid 90′s, they were caught in a bind—the NCAA didn’t allow for international members. Ergo, SFU joined the CIS in 2002. But after the NCAA opened up a 10-year pilot program in 2007, SFU made clear where they were headed.
Of course, chances are the only thing you really care about is whether (insert your current school/alumni here) is going to join the NCAA anytime soon, and whether the CIS is under any real sort of threat. And the answer is pretty much assuredly no. UBC, whose Athletic Director has been a proponent of joining the NCAA for years and years, is still reviewing the idea, and will make a decision on whether to apply next year, but otherwise, Canadian universities aren’t exactly clamping at the bit to join the American league, despite their invitation. Most schools are quite content with the CIS’ long-standing philosophic decision against athletics scholarships, for starters. Second, for smaller and medium sized schools, the travel/scholarship/accreditation costs, not to mention academic issues, are too great to really afford the change—not to mention the fact a school like Western would get way less local interest playing against a Div. II college like Grand Valley State University than they would say against say, Queens.
While no other schools have expressed interest in moving, for another school to apply for the NCAA, it probably has to be like UBC—close to the border, with a big endowment, and with plenty of international ambition. Of course, they would also need to have a decent athletic program already in place.
College sports earn U.S. universities a lot of money, but arguably distort their mission
A couple of years ago I interview Dr. Carl Wieman, the American Nobel laureaute in physics who moved to the University of British Columbia to set up the Carl Wieman Science Education Initative, a project to improve the quality of undergraduate science teaching at UBC and across North America. Wieman’s interest is in figuring out how to improve teaching ad learning at universities. When we spoke, he surprised me by pointing to U.S. college sports as an obstacle to that mission. Last week, Simon Fraser University announced that it had become the first Canadian university to be admitted to the main U.S. college sports body, the NCAA. As for UBC — the other Canadian university that was seen as a prime candidate for NCAA membership — it recently announced that it is putting its expression of interest on hold for a year.
When I asked Wieman why he chose to come to UBC — he was previously at the University of Colorado, and as Nobel laureate could have landed a position and received funding at any major U.S. university — he mentioned a couple of factors. But the one that surprised me involved the way that for-profit sports are, in his view, distorting the mission of the U.S. university:
Wieman:… One feature I often point out is [UBC’s] football coach gets paid like an assistant professor, not, like, 10 times the university president. People just don’t realize that college athletics at public universities [in the U.S.] has become so dominant that the governing boards, the presidents, are thinking about the success of the football team first and undergraduate education second.
Q: I hadn’t thought about the fact that college sports might have played into your decision.
A It’s really so crazy. You go to a U.S. university and you look at what fraction of the governing board time is spent on athletic stuff as opposed to the rest of the university and, you know, it might be 50 per cent.
Q: And the NCAA recently opened its doors to non-American schools. Some Canadian universities are thinking about joining.
A: And UBC is one of them. I screamed when I found out!
All varsity teams will compete in the organization’s Division II starting September 2011
Simon Fraser University has been approved as the first non-U.S. member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which is the world’s largest college sports organization. The announcement comes on the heels of a decision by the University of British Columbia to defer joining the organization by at least one year.
The school says all of its varsity teams will compete in the NCAA’s second division in 2011, after a two-year transition period, according to a press release issued July 10.
“This is a first for a Canadian university, and it reflects SFU’s long history of competing in U.S. varsity associations and conferences,” says SFU president Michael Stevenson.
“It means a high level of competition and challenge for our athletes. As has always been the case, our primary concern is that our athletes succeed as students. The NCAA has strong academic requirements and we will maintain the high academic standards that SFU has always demanded from all…teams.”
For more from the press release, click here.
Stay tuned to Maclean’s OnCampus for continuing coverage of this story.
Plan to become the first Canadian university in the main U.S. college sports league is delayed for at least a year
The University of British Columbia will wait until at least next year before deciding if it will join the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division II in the United States.
The NCAA, the main U.S. college sports league, opened membership beyond the U.S. for the first time in January 2009 as a pilot project with Canadian schools. UBC is currently a member of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).
A report by a UBC committee did not recommend for or against a UBC application to join the NCAA.
“A lack of answers to critical questions means deferral until at least 2010 of a decision on whether or not to apply for membership,” the university said in a release Thursday.
One of the reports co-authors said respondents to surveys and open houses were divided on the benefits of joining the NCAA. David Farrar, the UBC’s vice-president academic, also said there remains insufficient information to allow the university to determine NCAA suitability before a June 2009 window for application.
“There are some critical unanswered questions that leave open options as to whether or not NCAA participation is the appropriate way to go for the university and its student athletes,” Farrar said.
Among the questions is whether or not UBC could receive an exemption from the NCAA for its academic accreditation requirement.
Further unresolved issues revolve around discussions about the level of competitive opportunities and financial support for student athletes that UBC and other universities are having with CIS, the main body in which most UBC athletes currently compete.
It is also unlikely to be clear until after the June NCAA deadline whether or not CIS will allow universities to compete in both the CIS and the NCAA.
- The Canadian Press