Next week, administrators from athletics departments across Canada will convene at Mont-Tremblant for the CIS Annual General Meeting. The 108-page package has been released for the meeting, and while it's as meandering and jargony as you'd expect, there are a number of interesting tidbits:
At the 2009 AGM, the CIS passed a motion to explore a "flexible scholarship model", which would allow schools to give as much money as they wanted to top athletes, while still maintaining an overall limit they could spend on athletic scholarships.
And a year later...nothing has happened. Well, that's not exactly true: a task force was struck, they talked to members, and found that "that there is more work to be done to find new common ground. Some respondents felt the proposed flexible model was too progressive while others expressed a contrary view." Meaning, the fundamental argument over giving NCAA-style scholarships to athletes still exists.
The only real recommendation of the task force was that university presidents get involved in the discussion to find "common ground" on the topic, and that work take place to ensure some sort of decision is made at the 2011 AGM. Given that university presidents will likely have the same broad spectrum of opinion on scholarships as their athletic directors, it's difficult to have much optimism in their resolving the stalemate on this issue.
Talent Drain to the US
The report also contained research done by Ken Shields, former Canadian men's national basketball team coach, on the amount of top Canadian talent heading south. To no one's surprise, the numbers aren't pretty:
- There are 99 members of the national men's and women's soccer teams. 56 are NCAA-trained. 14 are CIS-trained.
- There are 74 Canadian women and 70 men playing Div. 1 NCAA basketball.
- There are currently 99 top young Canadian men at basketball prep schools in the USA who will most likely go on to attend American universities.
More power to big universities?
Part of the reason for never-ending gridlock with CIS internal politics is the split in priorities between big and small schools. There are a couple motions on the table at the AGM that deal with the issue.
Motion 9 would see the requirements raised for being a CIS member. Currently, a school only has to participate in one male and one female sport. The proposal on the table would force schools to field teams in a minimum of two sports per gender. Currently, Winnipeg, Fraser Valley, Thompson Rivers, Brandon, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, UQAM and St. Thomas field four teams or fewer.
Motion 10 would allow schools that field 12 or more CIS teams to have an extra vote at meetings. Currently, universities have two votes each, contingent on bringing two delegates to the meeting. If this motion passes, universities with 12+ teams would have three votes.
Chasing the TV Holy Grail
A good portion of the document focuses on the CIS' much debated TV strategy. Unsurprisingly, the CIS frames the changes of the past year in a positive light. Total viewership on nationally televised games increased from 1.34 million to 2.09 million from 2008/2009 to 2009/2010. The vast majority of the increase comes from football-the Uteck Bowl (271,000), Mitchell Bowl (596,000), and Vanier Cup (710,000) brought in massive increases in viewing. The men's hockey semifinals and final drew 247,000, compared to 156,000 the year before.
Basketball? Not so much. The men's tournament only increased from 163,000 to 176,000 for the five games televised, and viewership for the women's final was cut by half and then some (31,000 down to 14,000).
However, there's still no guarantee that TSN will televise more games in the upcoming year. There's still no guarantee that men's basketball won't be shipped to TSN2. And while they applaud themselves for planning to spend $320,000 of production costs next year, compared to $580,000 in 2007/2008, it underlines the work still needed to be done.
There are many more interesting bits in the report, including a full budget, and motions to create greater accountability on the drug testing front, so I'd encourage anyone interested to take the time to sift through it.