It’s official: Simon Fraser University’s Clan sports teams are now full members “with all the rights and privileges” of the U.S. National Collegiate Athletics Association Division II, says Milton Richards, SFU’s senior director of athletics and recreation.
SFU teams had played as provisional members of the NCAA last year, in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, but were ineligible for post-season play because the NCAA requires its member institutions to be accredited through a U.S. accreditation agency. SFU had applied for accreditation when it started the transition process to the NCAA three years ago, “but it became clear it was going to take way longer than three years,” says Dr. Richards.
Considering that no such university accreditation system exists in Canada, and that SFU is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the NCAA Presidents Council decided this past August to make an exception in this case. Last year, says Dr. Richards, several Clan teams would have made it to post-season play, including the men’s soccer team, which finished the season undefeated.
SFU has a long tradition of playing in the United States through the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. However, over the years many of SFU’s traditional rivals switched to the larger NCAA. Simon Fraser is the first school outside the U.S. to play in the NCAA.
“All of our athletes have a tremendous amount of pride being the first to compete for a Canadian school in the NCAA,” says Dr. Richards. “This brings them all closer to their ultimate goal of winning an NCAA national championship.”
You should also report in this story the transformation that academics will be forced to undergo because of this decision: now SFU must be accredited, and with that comes a lot of nonsense: imposition of all sorts of requirements for accreditation that do nothing to improve education or teaching; the added expense of maintaining that accreditation (at U. Washington, for example, 22 full time employees oversee the maintenance of accreditation), at a time when our course sizes are increasing, faculty salaries are being frozen, and the overall quality of instruction is falling. SFU seems to find the time and money to pursue athletics, but it cannot find the money to hire a proper number of faculty to stage robust academic programs.
So, the university is sacrificing educational quality so that it can pursue this ridiculous dream of athletic excellence. And this at a university where the vast majority of students are indifferent to athletics. Attendance at most sporting events is paltry at best.
This is the real story, not the feel-good tale of pursuing that dream of a “national” title.