Two weeks ago The Cascade ran an article on the current Canada West basketball schedule for 2014-2015, a schedule that seems to demote UFV and five other CIS schools to a second tier division. Here are some perspectives from athletics directors of other Canada West universities, both on the schedule and on UFV’s complaints.
With files from Atta Almasi of The Gateway (University of Alberta) and Mike Davies of The Omega (Thompson Rivers University).
Kenneth Schildroth, MacEwan University (to The Gateway)
On being placed in the Explorer division:
“In regards to all sports, we knew when we were going from one association to another that when you go to the other association, they’ll put you where you need to go. We don’t really have a position [regarding] ‘Explorer’ or ‘Pioneer’ … we’ll go where the league wants us to go. We want to play in the league and that’s part of the deal.
“In any organization right across the country at university sport, when you first come in you’re a probationary member and you don’t have rights or responsibilities other than to upgrade your program so you can play at that level.”
On whether the current divisional structure will be permanent:
“I don’t think this division is forever. I know that the Canada West—and I can’t really speak for them—they’re going to go through a strategic planning process. There’s been unprecedented growth and any organization has to adapt to that growth and they’re going through that process. So in that strategic management process, or strategic planning, it’ll develop structures and they may look at things in a different way … [and] we’ll just see how that shapes out.”
Ken Olynyk, Thompson Rivers University (to The Omega)
On recruiting for Explorer division schools:
“I do not believe it impacts recruiting in a negative way at all. When recruiting our job is to sell the city, the university, and our athletic program. If we do our job then we are not being impacted in a negative alignment in any way.”
Dr. Ian Reade, University of Alberta (to The Gateway)
On the 2014-2015 schedule:
“Well I think the schedule wasn’t really made on benefitting us. The scheduling process is a process where you have to get two thirds of the schools to agree on a schedule. So, at the end of the day, sometimes you end up with a schedule that nobody really completely likes, but it’s something that two-thirds of all (schools) agree to.”
“Over the course of, let’s say, six months, there had been something like 40 different basketball schedules that were developed and went through various groups that look at the schedule … Then it went to a sport committee and then it eventually went to the Canada West Annual General Meeting. And by the time it got to that stage, we couldn’t agree on anything, really, so it ended up that this schedule was the only one where we seemed to be able to get enough votes to actually pass or we wouldn’t have had a schedule at all … It really had nothing to do with whether it benefitted us or disadvantaged somebody else or anything like that. And I know that seems a bit strange, but having to try and get two-thirds of 14 people to agree on a schedule is extremely difficult in basketball and soccer—in hockey and football it’s easy—but in those sports it’s very hard.”
On the accusation of tiering:
“I think that’s a bit ridiculous actually. The definition of ‘tiering’ is when one level of a tier has certain rights and privileges that the other level doesn’t have. And in this case … both of the divisions have equal opportunity to get to nationals.
“There’s about six schools that are in the [Explorer] division … schools that are very good actually. So I’ve heard them complain about their schedule, but in many ways the six-team division is actually a better place to play, in some ways, than the other division … To be in a
division with 11 schools and a lot of the stronger
schools is going to make it harder for us to get to nationals.
“There’s schools in that division with the six teams that actually voted for it and wanted it because they felt like if they could stay away from U of A and UBC for a couple of years it would actually be better for them. So, at the end of the day, that schedule is virtually there because it was the only one where we could get agreement.
“And their concern that it’s becoming tiered, I just completely disagree with that. I think its inappropriate language in terms of saying it’s tiered.
“It was never, in my view, ‘Let’s take those six schools that are smaller and newer members and throw them into another division’. That wasn’t my thinking. That was just, ‘Here’s the schedule, there’s 11 in one and we’ve got 11 people who are willing to vote in favour of this right now.’ And by the time that came up I said, ‘Okay. There’s nothing better on the table right now.’ I don’t particularly like it that much (but) maybe in another iteration we’ll have a different schedule.
“Fraser Valley’s made a lot of fuss about this and so has UBC Okanagan and those schools. What I said to them face-to-face is, ‘You guys don’t like the schedule that you have. Every single schedule that I’ve ever seen in my 23 years being around this business has at least a couple of people who didn’t like it. Every schedule. There’s never been one where everybody says “Whoa, it’s great for me this year!”’ There’s always a couple who don’t like it and they throw all kinds of reasons out and in this particular case it’s throwing reasons out like ‘tiering’ and ‘they’re trying to push us off somewhere else.’ And there could be two or three people who voted for it for that reason, and maybe there’s a whole bunch of people like me who voted for it because there wasn’t anything better to vote for.”
These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.