CIS addresses competition with NCAA


2ARams2Could the Rams be facing NCAA competition?

Scott Hastie
The Silhouette (McMaster University)

HAMILTON (CUP) – Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) President Leo Macpherson made an appearance on Sportsnet 590 to discuss important issues surrounding the league, and it’s battle to acquire top athletes amidst stiff competition from National Collegiate Athletic Association teams. 

MacPherson spoke at length about worries of a “talent drain,” which he believes hampers the quality of play in the CIS.

“We don’t have a consensus that we have a crisis on our hands for young Canadian prospective student-athletes for the CIS migrating to the NCAA,” said the CIS president. “But there is some concern.”

He went on to explain that the league is judging the loss of Canadian talent on a sport-by-sport basis, pointing to women’s hockey as a particular area of concern.

The CIS also discussed a Canada West proposal to have a “tiered-league” in Canada. In theory, the CIS would turn into a nation wide conference instead of the current division set-up. The Ontario University Athletics, Atlantic University Sport, Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec, and Canada West conferences would be absorbed into one new super-league.

But, MacPherson was skeptical of the idea.

“We have a very, very broad geographic land mass that we have to cover in Canada. I just don’t see the financial feasibility of that happening, but it is provocative dialogue,” he said.

“We don’t have a consensus that we have a crisis on our hands for young Canadian prospective student-athletes for the CIS migrating to the NCAA." – Leo Macpherson

One of the major points of the interview was insight into the workings of the CIS recruitment and eligibility rules, and the lack of a compliance office. The league boss explained how the CIS operates on an honour system and that there have been minimal problems thus far.

Eligibility talks didn’t stop there; the CIS is discussing elongating the eligibility for student-athletes. The CIS allows students five years of eligibility in seven years after leaving high school, but this could be increased to seven or eight years per MacPherson’s comments. However, he was not the biggest advocate for the idea.

“I think we’ve got it just about right at five years,” MacPherson argued.

The final issue discussed was the status of scholarships in contrast to the NCAA.
The American operation has the ability to offer “full-ride” scholarships, meaning athletes can get residence, food, tuition and fees covered by their sport endeavors. In the CIS, scholarships can only cover tuition and fees, and the dollar amount that can be distributed varies from conference to conference.

The reason for less money available to CIS athletes is tied to budgets of athletic departments.

“[Scholarships] are based on the ability to pay,” MacPherson said. “What we see in the NCAA is the upper echelon of Division I, with packed football stadiums and packed basketball arenas. There is some serious dollars tied to that.”

MacPherson commented that the meetings were much better than he expected. The viability of the CIS is a debatable topic, but the league is acknowledging this and will continue to look for input from all university administrations.

1 comment

  1. Pacifica 23 May, 2014 at 12:25

    I think the CIS really needs to come to grips with how much more attractive the NCAA is for Canadian talent in order to begin to address the loss of much of our top talent. The scholarships & exposure that Canada doesn’t offer – pretty much kills our schools’ chances of landing top recruits by driving these students south.

    Something has to be done before the CIS system winds up in shambles and more key talent flees to greener pastures south of the border.

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