Ontario faces football shakeup
By John Intini
Three Ontario universities made a formal bid last week to move out of the Quebec football conference before the start of the 1997-98 season, Ontario University Association football convenor David Copp said.
The Carleton Ravens, Ottawa Gee Gees and the Queens Golden Gaels, which currently play in the Ontario Quebec Intercollegiate Football Conference division want to join the Ontario University Athletics Association West division, of which Western is a part, to make a unified Ontario-wide conference.
The teams claim that playing in the Quebec league has taken away from their public profile and has been a hindrance with regard to alumni support.
"All three teams have a student base that has a majority of Ontario students," Copp said. "These students want to see Ontario teams and are not happy with the current set-up."
In the late '70s, the three teams joined up with McGill, Concordia and Bishop's for transportation purposes, under the assumption that once a fourth team was added they would move back to the OUA conference.
"This request is not unexpected," Drew Love, director of athletics at Carleton, said. "We have waited 20 years for this and finally something may get done."
Love claims the Quebec conference can survive even without the presence of the three Ontario schools. "The Atlantic conference has worked perfectly with just four teams," he said. "Our students and alumni demand the Ontario exposure and deserve it."
Copp has organized a five-person committee to review the bids of the three teams. "Travelling costs will definitely play a big part in the final decision," he said. "However, as paying members, all teams deserve the same treatment. We have to look out for what is fair for everyone involved."
Copp stated the committee is currently playing with a number of alternatives and the creation of an 11-team Ontario league is only one possible route.
"The main problem with this solution is time," Copp said. "Right now it is tough to get all the games in with such a short season. If we added more teams to a conference, things would have to be worked out with regard to conference games."
Under the current systems, OUAA teams play eight regular season games, while teams in the OQIFC play seven. The schedule would then have to be lengthened to 11 for each Ontario school to play each division member at least once.
Another option may be a two-division league with a crossover for the playoffs, or a third option of setting up three, five school divisions. However, the problem with both of these solutions are the travel expenses they would demand.
"We will take a very close look at the situation and talk to all who will be affected by any decision," Copp said, adding a decision is expected by December.