SFU's path to NCAA is clear-cut; UBC's is complicated

There's a fair bit of news about UBC and Simon Fraser's moves to NCAA Division II, via the Vancouver Province:
"Simon Fraser University will apply for NCAA Division II membership by this year’s June 1 deadline and, if approved, plans to move all its teams there by the 2011-12 season.

"SFU’s board of directors voted Thursday morning to support the athletic department’s application to the major U.S. sporting body, which in a landslide vote in Jan., 2008 opened its doors to Canadian schools for the first time.

" 'It’s about our historical roots with the Pacific Northwest, and we also realize that travel within the Canada West has become quite cumbersome,' said SFU athletic director Dr. David Murphy." — Vancouver Province
Simon Fraser would join the Great Northwest conference, whereas it's complicated for UBC. Basically, it has until June 1 to apply to join the NCAA, but won't find out until after that whether a school can be still keep some teams in Canada. UBC, as the Provie's Marc Weber notes, is also mulling what to do now that it has a $55-million campus arena, built for the 2010 Olympics:
UBC would consider keeping some teams in CIS and having others play in the NCAA and, for that reason, it’s prudent of them to wait for the CIS to make a ruling on dual membership.

"... That vote on dual membership will come mid-June at the AGM, so after the June 1 NCAA deadline. All that means is the timeline shifts one year if UBC chooses to go down the NCAA road, and there’s plenty of reasons to suggest UBC wouldn’t want to go down that road right away anyway."
Again, it's thorny ... tough to separate the emotions from the rationalism.

Simon Fraser Clan takes first step towards securing NCAA Div. 2 membership (Marc Weber, Vancouver Province)
The full skinny on the Clan's move to the NCAA (Marc Weber, Little Man on Campus)
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  1. Rather than have two posts on this, 30 minutes apart, I'm just going to copy-and-paste what I said into the comments here.

  2. Two things here. One, "not enough history, too much geography" raises its head again. Two, I would love to hear how travel in either the Great Northwest Atlantic Conference or Pacific West Conference would cost less than travel in Canada West currently does.

    GNAC has two teams in Alaska, and several others an extra-long drive or cross-border flight away from Van. PacWest, which UBC is flirting with, has four (four!) in Hawai'i, one in Phoenix, one in San Francisco...need I go on?

    Yes, GNAC has schools in Seattle and Bellingham, so they'd have two convenient road trips. Which is nice, except, last I checked, there were Canada West schools in Victoria, Langley, and Abbotsford.

    It's not about travel costs, except possibly for the championships, which apparently cost each school far less in the NCAA. So let's not pretend that flying to Honolulu or San Mateo, instead of Winnipeg or Saskatoon, would lighten the financial load.

    I also don't get the "attracting athletes bit" aside from scholarship advantages. How many elite Canadian athletes are in D-II, currently playing for American schools? It's not like the best student-athletes (currently in Division 1) would switch back to UBC or SFU just for the opportunity to play against the Academy of Art University, or to fly up to Fairbanks. There has to be more to attract them than that.

    There are legitimate reasons for either school to join the NCAA. I would like to see an athletic director put forth a cogent argument about scholarship money, for instance, instead of relying on the ignorance of those who can't figure out driving directions on Google Maps.

    The kicker comes from Philip:

    As I've said to the CIS, this is not anti-CIS. I personally love CIS. But there are times when you have to do things for your own particular needs

    "I will love you forever, or until you stop meeting my needs." Did everyone else get that card on Valentine's Day, too?

  3. Actually that quote was Dr. Murphy, not Bob Philip. And he is genuine. He's spent years in CIS and actually wanted to be CIS president, until the SFU move.

    And the travel argument is not b.s. Two things: One is GNAC is almost all travel by bus, which everyone knows is much cheaper than flying, especially when you factor in a major sport like football or hockey. More importantly, the CIS cost-shares championship travel, which schools pay almost half a million into. There is no such thing in NCAA, where the league pays for championship travel.

    Most of all when you consider UBC, you have to understand their long term vision is D1 not D2. They're not going to talk about that while they're trying to go D2 and be a valuable member there, but everyone knows it's the case. The Athletic Department stated it publicly years ago when they first went down this road.

    And if you need a more "legit" reason to explore this avenue, look no further than the very real potential of an all-B.C. division within Canada West in a couple of years. Yes, perhaps that reduces the travel cost argument, but it raises a more important one about competitive opportunity. UBC gets to play... Vancouver Island University? UBC Okanagan? UNBC? As well as Fraser Valley and Thompson Rivers. How is that any different than your Academy of Art.

    As far as attracting athletes: Will being a D2 school keep kids at home who have good D1 opportunities down south? No. But what about all the kids playing at no-name D1 schools or D2 schools. Personally, I believe you will keep some of those kids home simply because you can give them a full ride and they can stay in Canada and get a great education.