The UBC Thunderbirds will be playing CIS Basketball for a long time. After years of seriously considering a move to join the NCAA Division II ranks, the Vancouver based school has decided to stick around and compete in the growing Canadian University basketball space.
The announcement is somewhat surprising and could bring significant changes to the CIS basketball brand.
UBC President Stephen J. Toope was firm in his speech and also affirmed that UBC will take a leadership role in promoting reform in CIS. His vision is to introduce a two-tier conference within the Canada West and eventually across Canada, which could have a direct impact on rules and basketball scholarships.
“UBC has a proud history within the CIS as both a founding member and successful competitor,” he said. “But we need to build upon this tradition because, frankly, the status quo is no longer acceptable. Therefore, we commit, in affirming our membership, to drive change.”
In July 2009 the University of Simon Fraser Clan decided to take their game to Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) of NCAA II citing similar reasons and issues with the CIS.
Many CIS basketball supporters have been asking for change for quite some time now, and hopefully the Thunderbirds decision to stick around will be that defining moment.
Quite frankly, student athletes deserve more and the folks over at UBC recognize that.
“I believe that significant reforms within CIS, which must also include enhancing scholarship opportunities, will offer Canadian student athletes the kind of competitive opportunities they need and deserve.”
The two-tier approach is intriguing and makes sense. The CIS and the CCAA (Canadian Colleges Athletic Association) should amalgamate and form one national governing body and create something similar to NCAA D1, D2. This would offer greater flexibility in management, including rapid growth and greater promotion of the game of basketball and other sports.
The landscape of Canadian Collegiate Sports is rapidly changing, and we look forward to seeing how this all turns out.