SFU Nears Full-Member Status in the NCAA
The National Collegiate Athletic
Association (NCAA) membership committee has conditionally approved Simon Fraser
University as its first non-American school.
The last step in the process comes
August 1 when there will be a final vote by the executive council to decide if
the university will become a full member, effective September 1.
"Being able to compete for national
championships in the NCAA will instill a sense of pride and engagement in the
entire SFU community," says SFU President Andrew Petter.
"SFU's ability to participate in
the NCAA as a full member provides numerous opportunities to the university, not
only in avenues it gives athletes to compete, but it will also build the profile
of SFU throughout North America."
Now entering its third year as the
only non-American school in the NCAA, SFU was previously unable to compete in
the post-season because the organization requires its members to be accredited
through a U.S. accreditation agency.
However, the NCAA approved an
exception last week at its annual conference allowing the SFU Clan to compete
for championships starting this fall as part of a pilot program. In the
meantime, the university is pursuing accreditation with the Northwest Commission
of Colleges and Universities.
"In talking with our
student-athletes, it's very apparent that being the only non-American school in
the NCAA is a huge motivator," said Senior Director of Athletics and Recreation
"All of our athletes have a
tremendous amount of pride being the first to compete for a Canadian school in
the NCAA. This brings them all closer to their ultimate goal of winning an NCAA
This announcement completes SFU's
transition back to its roots of competing against schools south of the border.
SFU Athletics was approved as the first non-American school in the NCAA on July
10, 2009. After a final season in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), the Clan
competed in 2010-11 as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate
Athletics (NAIA) in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC).
"It's been an awesome journey for
me," says SFU women's basketball player Kristina Collins. "It's going to be a
big year. Going into my senior year I just want to do my best and help the team
reach their potential. Now that we are able to compete for a national
championship, we want to prove that we are capable of playing at the level."
In 2011-12, SFU went through its
provisional membership year in the NCAA, in the school's second season in the
As a provisional member, the Clan
had several GNAC champions in track and field, and the men's soccer program won
its second consecutive GNAC title. Plus, the women's basketball team recorded
the school's first ever NCAA conference playoff victory, defeating Seattle
Pacific to reach the semi-finals of the GNAC championship tournament.
"I was here when we were in the CIS
and have now spent the last two years in the NCAA," says Bo Palmer, a running
back with the SFU football team and a Hamilton Tiger Cats draft pick. "I've seen
the shift in competition first-hand -- the NCAA has bigger, stronger and faster
teams. There's a huge sense of pride knowing that we can win games against some
of the best competition out there."
Fall sports teams will begin
preparing for their first season in pursuit of NCAA national championships in
mid-August. For information on SFU's journey into the NCAA, and updates on
all teams, visit athletics.sfu.ca.
While the NCAA requires that all of
its members to be accredited by a regional accrediting agency, they have made an
exception in SFU's case as part of the Canadian pilot program, recognizing that
this sort of accreditation does not exist in Canada.
The NCAA President's Council
recommended that SFU be moved forward since the school is a member of the
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. It also recognized that all
Canadian institutions of higher learning are subject to reviews by the Degree
Assurance Quality Assurance Board, which conducts peer-to-peer review.
In addition, the NCAA President's
Council recognized various programs within the university have sought and
attained ad hoc accreditation.