Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Last updated: 15 hours ago

UBC proposes criteria for reviewing varsity sports teams

UBC is in the process of deciding which teams will have varsity status and which ones will be considered "competitive clubs." File photo Becca Williams/The Ubyssey

UBC is in the process of deciding which teams will have varsity status and which ones will be considered “competitive clubs.” File photo Becca Williams/The Ubyssey

On Nov. 8, UBC Athletics released an outline of the criteria they will use to classify sports teams.

In an upcoming athletic review, UBC will examine its 29 existing varsity teams and decide which of them will be shifted into a new strand dubbed “competitive sports clubs.”

The restructuring will be done by a UBC think tank founded by UBC VP Students Louise Cowin in May 2012, which follows a model provided by Canada Sport For Life. 

Using this criteria, teams would be judged based on five categories, with different weight assigned to each. Thirty-five per cent is allocated for competitive success, competition and progression; 15 per cent for support of competitive success; 20 per cent for community support and tradition; 10 per cent for partnerships; and 20 per cent for a fit with the university’s mission.

Teams will be asked to provide data on these criteria for a minimum of five preceding years, but can provide data for additional years as well.

According to the UBC media release, the criteria was created by an advisory team made up of representatives from the university, coaches, athletes and alumni. This team met with alumni, student athletes and coaching staff prior to creating the criteria.

Sports criteria graph

UBC is currently asking for feedback on the criteria, and this will be open until Dec. 1. Teams will submit their data for the criteria in early 2014. The changes are scheduled to come into effect in September 2015.

“[UBC Athletics is] going through this criteria development and agreeing on which sports will go where on the sports model and why,” said Ashley Howard, UBC’s managing director of athletics. “Once the model is agreed [upon], we’ll go through the assessment phase of all of our teams, and some teams would be placed in our competitive clubs strand.”

Teams that could be reclassified as competitive clubs include both varsity teams and competitive non-varsity teams. Under the new structure, varsity teams moved into the competitive sports club category would undergo a restructuring of the resources they currently have access to.

“Right now we’re looking at the types of things a competitive club would have access to,” Howard said, “and rather than a full time coach, we’re discussing honorarium coaching support, or if the club is student led, then a student leader. We are also discussing subsidized facility access during non-peak times.”

She also said UBC is still figuring out branding for competitive teams in this classification.

“We’re still open in terms of our discussion about whether competitive teams would be Thunderbirds or whether they would be UBC competitive clubs, but in some way that doesn’t exist now, they would be recognized as UBC teams, so there would be that sense of legitimacy and appreciation for what they do,” Howard said.

“There is a big difference between the two strands, but we are really excited about the new strand and the opportunities that it offers.”

Rob Ragotte, head coach of UBC’s Nordic skiing team, said that the proposed criteria appear to be fair.

“I don’t think any of it came as any surprise to people based on what I’ve read and discussed so far,” said Ragotte. “We think that we’re in a position where we’ll end up being a competitive club, which might be a better fit for us. It’s kind of a wait-and-see type of thing just because … what it means for each team hasn’t been decided yet, but overall I think the [proposal] is a solid set of criteria that seems to judge the teams on a level playing field.”

Doug Reimer, head coach of the women’s volleyball team, also thinks the criteria seem reasonable.

“The key criteria are sound since they weigh competitive success and coaching as most important, but is well rounded as it includes student academic success, community involvement and impact as well as tradition,” said Reimer. “I think they are taking a lot of input and time to try and capture the wide variety of varsity sports experience at UBC.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article quoted Bob Ragotte as saying “we think that we’re in a position where we’ll end up being a competitive club, which might be a benefit for us.”
In fact, Ragotte said “we think that we’re in a position where we’ll end up being a competitive club, which might be a better fit for us.” The Ubyssey regrets the error.