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CIS approves presidents’ advisory role

University heads will have a say on any substantive issues facing varsity sports governing body.

By MARK CARDWELL | JUN 30 2011

The membership of Canadian Interuniversity Sport approved the creation of a new management oversight body made up of university presidents at its annual general meeting in Victoria earlier in June.

“There was a motion … to approve the creation of a presidents’ advisory board effective immediately,” said Leo MacPherson, director of athletics and recreation at St. Francis Xavier University and the new president of CIS. “The vote was unanimously supported with a show of voting cards.”

Proposed by a working group of university presidents and approved at a semi-annual meeting of all 52 CIS-member presidents last April, the new body will provide presidents with an official oversight role in the management of CIS, the governance body for varsity sports in Canada. Voting members include the executive heads of all CIS member schools as well as the sitting CIS president.

Mr. MacPherson said university athletic directors across the country welcome the “input, guidance and direction on matters deemed substantive in nature” that the new board will provide. “I look forward to this increased presidential participation and I feel it will assist our goal of increased advocacy for university sport in Canada.”

“I think it will strengthen CIS,” said Saint Mary’s University President Colin Dodds, who chaired the working group. He noted that contentious issues within CIS like financial support for athletics and expansion “are examples of things the presidents would grapple with.”

Those internal tensions were on public display at the CIS congress, when the Canada West Universities Athletics Association unanimously accepted a membership bid from the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus, but also voted for a second consecutive year not to accept a membership application from the University of Northern British Columbia.

“I’m disappointed by the outcome of the vote,” UNBC president George Iwama said in a bluntly worded press release. “Canada West was presented with an opportunity to expand the reach of its association into the north and showcase some of Canada’s best and brightest student athletes to our very deserving region.”

Sandy Slavin, president of the Canada West association and executive director of sport and recreation at the University of Lethbridge, said she understands the frustration because “I’ve been [to UNBC in Prince George] and I’ve seen the enthusiasm and how committed they are.” She said that UNBC failed to get the required 75 percent of votes because of concerns among some of the conference’s 13 member schools about increased travel expenses, among other things. “This is a process,” said Ms. Slavin. “All I can tell UNBC is to keep trying.”

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