NCAA moves north

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Apparently, SFU can excel in academics, athletics and partying Photo courtesy of Mark Burnham/The Peak

Simon Fraser University joins NCAA as the first non-American school

David Dyck
The Peak (Simon Fraser University)

BURNABY (CUP) — The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has conditionally approved Simon Fraser University (SFU) for membership. This will make SFU the first Canadian school to be accepted in the century-old organization.

While SFU has been a member for the past three years, the decision was made recently to grant an exception to SFU’s lack of U.S. accreditation in order to compete in the post-season. This gives SFU the chance to win an NCAA national – now international – championship.

“It’s the culmination of a total campus commitment from President Petter to Tim Rahilly to everyone you can think of, to become the first international school to join the NCAA,” SFU’s athletic director, Milt Richards, told The Peak. “It’s a tribute to Simon Fraser; if we weren’t such a great university academically, this wouldn’t happen.

“To make a long story short, the president’s council [the policy makers for Division Two] had a meeting,” Richards explained. “They discussed it and basically said, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do for Simon Fraser: as long as you’re a candidate for accreditation,’ which we are, ‘as long as you’re accredited by your country’s accreditation, we’ll waive the bylaw that says you have to be accredited by a U.S. accreditation.’”

While Canada has no accreditation agencies similar to those in the U.S., SFU’s membership in the Association of Colleges and Universities of Canada (AUCC) has served as an acceptable replacement. The AUCC is a lobby group that represents over 90 universities nationally.

Meanwhile, SFU is currently still in the process of gaining U.S. accreditation with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). It is projected that SFU will not earn full accreditation until 2017.


“It’s the culmination of a total campus commitment from President Petter to Tim Rahilly to everyone you can think of, to become the first international school to join the NCAA." – Milt Richards


Richards made it clear that despite being in the NCAA, SFU teams will still compete against their Canadian rivals.

“We would not have enough games and contests and matches if we only played U.S. schools, and we are a Canadian institution, and we’re proud of being in Canada,” said Richards.

Richards explained that the process for joining NCAA’s Division Two – the only division that has voted to allow international institutions to join – takes three years. In the first two years, the candidate institution is ineligible for championships.

He stated that last year’s men’s soccer, women’s basketball, track and field athletes, swimming, and wrestling all would have had good chances to be in the NCAA nationals, but were ineligible. “Softball would have made it the way they finished the season,” said Richards.

“When you have a really competitive program and you tell a student athlete that they can’t compete in championships? You hate to talk about negative recruiting, but you know other people talked about that; well, that’s now been removed. That’s a big deal.”

“I’m ecstatic for the whole department, we definitely have some very strong teams,” said volleyball head coach Lisa Sulatycki. “You look at the men’s soccer team last year, who didn’t get their chance, and now they’re going to have their chance to do that.”

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