Media Release | Apr. 26, 2011

UBC will stay a member of the CIS

The University of British Columbia today announced that it will maintain its membership with Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and will not apply to join the U.S.-based National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

UBC President Stephen J. Toope also affirmed that UBC will take a leadership role in promoting reform in CIS – in governance, in the creation of two divisions within Canada West, and in the rules concerning athletic scholarships.

UBC began reviewing the implications of moving to the NCAA’s Division II after UBC Athletics’ 2008 recommendation to consider changing the university’s athletic membership. The NCAA started a pilot project to allow for schools outside the United States to apply for membership in June 2008.

Following an initial report in 2009, UBC deferred a decision about participating in the pilot, so as to gain better information on the future plans of CIS, and to clarify issues concerning NCAA Division II membership requirements. In January of this year, a second report was issued, followed by a round of consultations with members of the UBC community.

“The thorough consultation process revealed a tremendous diversity of opinion at all levels. Today, I am pleased to announce that we have decided to maintain our CIS membership,” said Toope. “As we look ahead, UBC will continue to work with the CIS to ensure that students and student athletes across Canada are provided with the best opportunities for competition and development.”

UBC considered switching its athletic membership in part because of concerns that the CIS was limiting the opportunities available to student athletes. Key concerns are scholarship limitations for student athletes and the changing competitive landscape created by the growth in membership of the CIS.

“Although the CIS has not yet resolved these issues, I believe that progress is finally being made.  Therefore UBC is today committing to both honouring and seeking to build upon the tradition of Canadian Interuniversity Sport,” Toope said.

“UBC has a proud history within the CIS as both a founding member and successful competitor,” he said. “But we need to build upon this tradition because, frankly, the status quo is no longer acceptable. Therefore we commit, in affirming our membership, to drive change.”

The Canada West CIS conference has already agreed to divide into two regional associations at an undefined future time. Throughout the consultation process, UBC heard that this plan is insufficient to meet current concerns.

“A number of universities in Canada West have today urged CIS to institute a two-tiered system beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year,” announced Toope.

The consultation process also exposed issues about the governance structure of CIS.

“UBC looks forward to discussing governance issues at the June CIS meeting, and I anticipate playing an even more active role in this organization,” Toope said.

A top concern throughout the consultation process has been the flexibility of scholarships for student athletes. UBC had hoped for greater flexibility in CIS regulations regarding scholarship support for student athletes.

“I believe that significant reforms within CIS, which must also include enhancing scholarship opportunities, will offer Canadian student athletes the kind of competitive opportunities they need and deserve.”

“UBC’s consultation process has contributed greatly to preparing the ground for the changes that are required for CIS to become the effective competitive arena that will offer student athletes here at UBC and across Canada a better future.”

For more information about UBC’s consultation and review process, visit:


UBC’s athletic membership

The University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus has been involved in a consultation and review process to consider moving its athletic membership to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II.

Currently, UBC’s Vancouver campus competes in Canada in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and in the United States in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

The CIS is the national governing body of university sport in Canada, compromised of 51 degree-granting universities in the country. UBC competes in 13 CIS sports. The NAIA is an autonomous association based in the United States that administers intercollegiate athletics programs for accredited colleges and universities. UBC competes in seven sports in the NAIA. A further eight varsity clubs compete outside of a league structure.

The NCAA is a voluntary organization through which American colleges and universities govern their athletics programs. It is the largest collegiate athletic association in the world and is divided into three divisions. The NCAA offers 25 of the 29 sports UBC competes in.

UBC’s Okanagan campus will begin competing in the CIS in September 2011, following its probationary membership in the Canada West conference this year.

Consultation timeline:

1990s: UBC Athletics and Recreation began discussing possibility of joining the NCAA
January 2008: NCAA voted to accept a 10-year Pilot Project, beginning in June of that year, to allow Canadian institutions to apply for membership in the NCAA Division II
April 2008: Upon UBC Athletics and Recreation’s recommendation that UBC should move its competitive sport programs to the NCAA Division II, UBC established a Review Committee to consider implications of this move
March 2009
: After public consultation, the Review Committee released the Consideration Memorandum
April 2009: UBC announced that the decision would be deferred pending more information
January 2011: Release of consultation document UBC Vancouver Campus and NCAA Division II Membership: A Review of the Issues
January – March 2011:
A further round of consultations was held with UBC community, including student athletes, coaches, faculty, and alumni.  Dozens of meetings were held and close to 500 written submissions were received.


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Heather Amos
UBC Public Affairs
Tel: 604-822-3213
Cell: 604-828-3867





Letter from university presidents to CIS and Canada West

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