Volume 94, Issue 69
Thursday, January 25, 2001
Full rides needed now
Well whoop-dee-frigin-do! Ontario University Athletics has finally joined the 1990s by increasing available athletic scholarships a whopping $1000.
Unfortunately, it's 2001 and the OUA is still years behind. How do they really expect to attract Canada's top athletic talent with a measly $2500, when just about everywhere else in North America, full scholarships are now being offered.
When are the people at OUA head offices, or wherever these decisions are made, going to wake up and smell what the Rock is cooking. University athletics can and should be a money maker for universities. As I've said in the past and will say again, someone with some pinache, guts and some foresight, needs to step up and take the OUA in the right direction.
Most universities in Canada, and specifically Ontario, can be the only game in town. Outside of Junior 'A' hockey, most university towns have no form of top level athletic competition. If these universities are able to attract top talent from around the country, while at the same time keeping some local talent, then there is the beginning for a recipe for success.
In the United States university athletics are such incredible money making machines it was rumored that Ohio State offered Oakland Raiders coach John Gruden $2 million a season. Two million bucks a season for a college football coach and here in Canada we have a tough enough time keeping all our programs running.
By keeping our top talent in Canada and in Ontario, the profile of these universities and their teams is automatically increased. As their profiles increase so does attendance and then so does revenue. Soon local merchants are getting on board with sponsorship deals because as savvy business people they will recognize the opportunity to make money.
The profile of university sports in Canada would soon have Canadian kids dreaming of playing for Western or Guelph or St. Mary's as opposed to Notre Dame or Michigan. Vanier Cups would actually sell out, regular season and play-off games would be on television, and athletes from our universities would be drafted to play their sport professionally.
Now of course I'm not saying mimic the American system, as there are many, many problems. But it should somewhat emulate it, and we can learn from their mistakes. Our academic standards should remain as rigorous as ever, and maintained throughout the life of a scholarship. The corruption that everyone believes would follow could be somewhat avoided as our athletes should still be allowed to work and make money on their own, and basically live their own lives.
Of course it's not just up to the OUA to make this happen. As universities become more and more expensive for the average student, administrators should be looking at creative ways of bringing in the much needed money while not increasing tuition. Sure certain programs may suffer with the introduction of scholarships, however in the long run, the entire university can benefit.
Friday night's men's hockey game between Western and Waterloo was played before one of the largest and noisiest crowds of the season and they were treated to one of the best hockey games of the year.
Just imagine what it would have been like had there been 6,000 or 7,000 thousand in attendance instead of maybe the 1,000 that showed up. The noise would have been incredible, the energy contagious, and the cash registers full.
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