Volume 96, Issue 6
Friday September 6, 2002

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Athletics get redefined

Beth Kerim/Gazette

WE MAY NOT HAVE SPORTS, BUT AT LEAST WE HAVE NICE SIGNS. Director of Sports and Recreation Services Dan Smith reviews the new athletic model at a press conference in May.

By Ryan Hickman
Gazette Staff


It has been almost four months now since Director of Sports and Recreation Services Dan Smith dropped a bomb on the Western athletic world, turning varsity athletic funding upside-down.

The consolidation of Western's Intercollegiate Athletics and Campus Recreation was introduced back in the spring on May 16. The proposal outlined plans for new and improved facilities and a realignment of varsity sports.

"Our guiding principles as we realign sports are to maximize participation opportunities for students, ensure financial responsibility and accountability and advance gender equity, while maintaining the priorities of team excellence and student athlete development," Smith explained.

The original realignment of varsity sports consisted of a four-tiered system, placing teams in funding brackets based on the criteria of finances, gender equity and student participation.

After some remodeling, the teams are now essentially grouped into two large categories – varsity sports which consists of the top two original tiers and varsity clubs, which is comprised of teams from the bottom two tiers.

The top echelon of the original athletic model is called Category I. These varsity sports are fully funded, including exhibition games and tournaments while receiving full administrative and marketing support.

Category II sports also hold varsity status and are to be treated equally with their upper category counterparts, but with reduced funding. Funding for the second tier does not account for exhibition games or tournaments, while seeing only light support from marketing.

The third tier have to solicit their own funds to survive and only get a wink and a nod from administration, while still being permitted to partake in Ontario University Athletic and Canadian Interuniversity Sports competition.

The lowest tier sports are categorized as Sports Clubs – an afterthought of the administration – forced to be self-sufficient in funding and management. They can, however, compete in the OUA and CIS (a reversal of an earlier ruling).

The timing of the disclosure of the sports realignment model came when the majority of the student body were wrapped up in summer activities, turning a blind eye to Western.

Former Western men's volleyball coach, Dave Preston, who is now McMaster's men's volleyball coach, commented on the release date. "I definitely saw the timing of the proposal as planned," Preston said.

There has been considerable opposition to the realignment model, especially from those who feel they have received the short end of the stick with the lack of funding. Preston exercised his disdain for the new plan by leaving for McMaster after feeling volleyball was being neglected.

"Men's volleyball was not seen as a priority and I spent nine years trying to make it a priority. Administration's hands were tied and they just had no more money," he said.

Women's tennis player Jacqueline Green explained the difficulty the new model will pose to the lower tier sports.

"It's extremely difficult for the new athletes entering the program," Green said. "We have had approximately half the amount of players try-out this season, and overall it reflects badly on the program as a whole."

WESTERN'S NEW ATHLETIC MODEL

Category I Category II
(full funding and support) (self-funding & limited support)
Men Women Men Women
Hockey Basketball Soccer Cross Country
Basketball Track & Field Track & Field Rugby
Football Soccer Volleyball Swimming
  Volleyball Rugby Hockey
  Wrestling Wrestling  
  Rowing Rowing  
       
Category III Category IV
(basic funding & support) (self-funded & managed)
Men Women Men Women
Cross Country Figure Skating Tennis Tennis
Swimming Lacrosse Badminton Badminton
Golf Golf Water Polo Field Hockey
Squash Squash Fencing Fencing
Baseball   Curling Curling
    Lacrosse Hockey


MORE SPORTS HEADLINES

Contact The Sports Department

2002 THE GAZETTE