NCAA approves pilot program

Is the NCAA coming to Canada?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs' mens hockey

Jon Purdy

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. The University of British Columbia may match up to NCAA schools in programs such as baseball, but it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing programs like Western hockey facing off south of the border.

By Boris Korby
The Ubyssey

VANCOUVER (CUP) " Amidst all the hoopla that accompanied the BCS National Championship game on Monday was a small announcement at the NCAA’s annual convention in Orlando that might very well be the first step towards the University of British Columbia’s admittance into the NCAA"the largest and most financially lucrative collegiate sports organization in the world.

NCAA President Myles Brand, following approval by the executive committee, introduced a 10-year pilot program to allow international schools to seek membership into the American sports giant.

“This is not a massive change, but conceptually it’s an interesting change,” said Brand, adding that the decision would likely only affect no more than three schools.

So far UBC and St. Claire’s College in Ontario have been the only institutions to express interest.

While the NCAA did not mention UBC specifically, University Director of Athletics and Recreation Bob Philip has no doubt the decision was made specifically as a result of the interest UBC has expressed in joining the NCAA.

“The decision was certainly initiated by our interaction with the NCAA,” said Philip.

According to Philip, the next step towards submitting an official application will be to evaluate the conditions attached to foreign university acceptance, followed by a campus-wide university engagement that will evaluate what is needed"both from UBC and the community at large"to compete successfully against American programs.

“We want to make sure everybody is comfortable with [switching to the NCAA],” said Philip. “We are not now coming back and saying we want the students to pay twice as many fees or we want to get a whole bunch of students [into UBC] who aren’t qualified.”

“To be successful down there we’d have to be able to attract the top Canadian athletes... and there are people that have expressed an interest"if we competed at the NCAA level"in generating a lot of support for scholarships.”

While UBC would still need the NCAA’s three divisions to change their legislation before a Canadian university could join, Philip said the sources he is engaged with assure him this would be “almost a formality.”

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