Delay to expand campus athletics due to league’s pending strategic review
A strategic review by the Canada West Universities Athletics Association (Canada West) has put on hold the possibility of adding varsity football to UBC’s Okanagan campus.
At its annual general meeting in May, Canada West placed a moratorium on new membership applications and on existing members applying to add teams to league sports. The moratorium was put in place to bring stability to the membership and sport structure to allow the members and the staff time to complete a strategic planning process while contemplating future growth. Canada West expects the moratorium to be lifted once this process is complete. While Canada West has not set a strict timeline, it is hoped that the process will be completed in 12 to 15 months.
“Canada West has undergone unprecedented growth over the past several years increasing its member institution numbers from 11 to 17, with relative increases in the participation of many of its league sports,” says UBC Okanagan Director of Athletics and Recreation Rob Johnson. “This growth brings significant challenges as members and the Association itself work to find ways to develop equitable schedules, re-organize resources and determine a sustainable plan for the future.”
Caught in this moratorium is a possible application from UBC Okanagan regarding football. The Okanagan Sun and UBC Okanagan have explored the idea of fielding a team in Canada West. While no formal agreement between the two organizations has been reached, discussions were progressing at the time the moratorium was announced.
“We are not yet in a position to make formal application to Canada West, as there are still a number of issues to be negotiated between UBC and the Sun,” says Johnson. “The moratorium is not a huge set-back at this time. In fact, the time frame Canada West suggests falls roughly in line with our thoughts on the earliest time we would be in position to submit an application.”
Sun President Paul Carson is disappointed by this delay in the process but feels it can provide more time to ensure a successful application process.
“We have spent a lot of time and energy on this project and intend on seeing it through to the end regardless of delays,” says Carson. “The Okanagan Sun are still very excited about the possibility of bringing CIS football to the Okanagan Valley and UBC and the feedback from the community has been very positive.”
Discussions between UBC Okanagan and the Sun continue.