Sweeping changes to the structure of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport league has forced universities across the country, including the University of Winnipeg, to field more teams.
Prior to this summer, a university needed to have one female and one male sport in order to be a full member of the CIS. However, this summer the CIS changed membership bylaws. Now, all universities must have two female and two male teams each.
Within the CIS, the U of W is a member of the CanWest region.
Recently, both the CIS and CanWest have been making changes to their memberships. Over the past few years, both the league and region have received multiple applications from universities asking to join.
Marg McGregor, chief executive officer of the CIS, said the changes were made to ensure universities are committed to the league.
“A university who is a member of CIS needs to be invested in a meaningful way,” she said.
Similarly, within CanWest, changes to membership rules are under discussion. It is the CanWest membership discussions that have sparked additions to the U of W athletics program, because the Wesmen already met the new requirements of the CIS.
Sandy Slavin, president of CanWest, explained the membership changes were proposed because many larger institutions wanted the smaller institutions to make a bigger commitment to CanWest.
Thus, the Future Competitive Sports (FCS) document was proposed. It states that institutions must meet one of three criteria: have two male and two female CanWest Association League Sports; have three male and three female CanWest Association League Sports, one of which must be men’s football; or have a minimum of two male and two female CanWest Association League Sports, combined with a maximum of six CanWest Association Tournament Sports.
The FCS document is still under discussion, and has not yet been approved by the CIS. However, athletic directors of institutions within CanWest approved the document last spring.
“Essentially we need some sort of direction to deal with growth of many of our schools in Western Canada,” Slavin said. “We got to where we are with this document, not necessarily because it’s the best work we could have done but because it’s the best we could get approved.”
Doran Reid, the University of Winnipeg’s athletic director, agreed the FCS document has contributed to the expansion of the Wesmen athletic program. Had it not expanded, the U of W program would not remain a full member of CanWest if the document is approved.
Still, Reid thinks the FCS document has potential.
“It is an acceptable structure that most institutions agree upon,” said Reid. “It’s not a perfect structure in anybody’s mind, but it can work.”
Published in Volume 66, Number 4 of The Uniter (September 22, 2011)