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Keeping UFV’s athletes extremely eligible

One of the easiest ways to send a season sideways in the Canada Interuniversity Sport (CIS) is to be penalized for an ineligible athlete. No matter an athlete’s performance on the court or field, ineligibility has caused the destruction of many teams, the end of playoff hopes or even the loss of national medals.

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By Paul Esau (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: April 3, 2013

One of the easiest ways to send a season sideways in the Canada Interuniversity Sport (CIS) is to be penalized for an ineligible athlete. No matter an athlete’s performance on the court or field, ineligibility has caused the destruction of many teams, the end of playoff hopes or even the loss of national medals.

UFV men’s basketball had its own brush with ineligibility in February when second-year Yale recruit Nathan Kendall was temporarily removed from his classes. The change in his status wasn’t discovered for several weeks, and the team was forced to forfeit the two wins they’d accumulated while playing with the ineligible Kendall on the roster.

UFV self-disclosed the violation when it was discovered, and Athletics was fined only $2750 for the relatively minor infraction. Unfortunately, Kendall himself was given a four-game suspension that he was forced to serve over the first four games of UFV’s playoff run. The CIS follows a strict policy when deciding upon disciplinary procedures for eligibility violations, one that doesn’t consider playoff games to be any different than the regular season.

UFV Athletics checks the eligibility of its competing student athletes weekly. The mistake which allowed Kendall’s status change to go unnoticed was partly a result of a system error and partly a miscommunication between Athletics and Admissions and Records (A&R), recently renamed Office of the Registrar (OReg). In the last week the two departments have been examining both errors as they work to create a cooperative approach which will eliminate the possibility of future mistakes.

The major change, according to Athletics director Rocky Olfert, will be to consolidate both departments onto the BANNER student record system, instead of the current arrangement under which Athletics uses an external platform that interacts with OReg’s BANNER system. Olfert explained “when upgrades happen or something happens to the system, BANNER gets updated but all these external systems they just say the same. So there’s a system there that’s flawed.”

Olfert doesn’t know how the current system came to be implemented, or why two separate systems would have been considered advantageous over the universal use of BANNER. As for the miscommunication that allowed Kendall to be removed from his classes only after Athletics’ weekly check, Olfert and OReg are considering solutions.

“Some other schools use BANNER for their student athletes,” said Olfert, “and their [student athlete files are] coded so that if an athlete would be removed [Athletics] could actually see that on the screen. So there would be a warning or something.”

Such a change wouldn’t result in special treatment for student athletes, but simply insurance against any further eligibility violations.

Olfert also stressed the need to educate the athletes themselves on maintaining their own academic status: “Most importantly, educating our student athletes on the importance of them taking care of their accounts, making sure they’re following up on the emails to them. They have to do their due diligence as well,” he said. “This isn’t just department heads trying to figure this out, this is also about educating our student athletes and making sure there’s accountability on their part.”

UFV is currently serving a 24-month probation in its CIS membership as a result of the recent eligibility violation. Any further violations within that period will be subject to more severe disciplinary measures, including possible suspension from the sport in question for a period of up to two years in the case of a serious offence.

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