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By Jordan Hay

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which oversees American college and university sports, has announced that, for the first time in its 100-year history, it might allow Canadian universities to apply for membership.

Opportunity knocked at the annual NCAA meeting in Orlando earlier this month when league president Myles Brand announced the proposal, that would allow no more than three Canadian universities to participate in the 10-year pilot program. Does this mean our Rams are headed for the NCAA?

Not likely. While the NCAA’s decision has captured the interest of the University of British Colombia and the University of Alberta, Ryerson’s athletic directors have no interest in heading south.

“We have a great league, the CIS. I wouldn’t want to see it fractionalized or divided,” said David Dubois, Ryerson’s program director of sports and recreation. Dubois is also doubtful the NCAA’s prospective expansion will be widely accepted due to the financial strain its Canadian participants would face. “Canadian universities operate on a different platform. We don’t get the revenues from TV that American universities do, so we can’t afford the big travel they can,” said Dubois.

Mirek Porosa, the Rams’ men’s volleyball coach, echoes Dubois’ concerns. “It would be difficult to play because of the travel expenses and time involved. You’d have to fly everywhere; you can’t just jump on a bus and drive 10 or 12 hours. There’s a lot more money involved,” he said. Despite the financial challenge, University of Alberta athletic director Dale Schulha sees a golden opportunity.

Though he refused to discuss the matter further, Schulha spoke with the Edmonton Sun shortly after the NCAA’s announcement. “I think the U of A should be looking at any possibilities that might increase our competitive opportunities for our student athletes,” he said.

Regardless of the select numbers of teams allowed, if contending teams from the U of A or other universities leave the CIS, it will seriously weaken the level of competition in the league and could have an equal effect on the future of sponsorships. “It’s a threat. If Alberta decides to pull out, or Laval, it’s going to be tough,” said Porosa.

But nobody’s worrying yet. Until the NCAA’s decision is official, the CIS will keep its current members, and that’s just fine with Dubois. “I think we have good competition here and it’s getting better every year,” he said.

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