The athletics program at Simon Fraser University has been placed on probation for the 2009-10 season, a move that won’t affect sports teams this season but leaves in doubt their status for next year.
The Canada West conference, of which SFU is a member, decided on the probation following the university’s decision to join the NCAA Division II. “They feel our application to the NCAA is not in the best interests of Canada West,” David Murphy, Simon Fraser’s athletic director, said Thursday.
The probation will not prevent Simon Fraser Clan teams, or individuals, from competing for conference or national titles this season.
“It’s an administrative thing,” said Murphy. “It’s really not a competitive issue at all.”
Sandy Slavin, the Canada West president, said the probation does prevent Simon Fraser from voting in conference decisions.
“We felt that was very important for us, as we go forward and plan where we are going,” said Slavin, executive director of athletics at the University of Lethbridge. “We don’t believe they have a vested interest in our business any more and they shouldn’t be voting.”
Murphy said he was not surprised by the Canada West action, but doesn’t think his school has done anything wrong.
“All we have done is said we are choosing, which is the right of a university, to play in a different venue,” he said. “We have been forthright and up front with our intentions.
“We have given them fair warning this would occur. This is the way they chose to react to us leaving.”
Slavin said the conference didn’t want to take any action that would impact Clan athletes this season.
“At this point, doing anything that would affect Simon Fraser’s ability to fully compete in ’09-10, we felt was very unfair to the student athletes,” she said.
A decision on SFU’s Canada West status for next year will be decided later this year.
“Next year is rather up in the air right now,” said Murphy.
Simon Fraser, located in Burnaby, B.C., is the first non-U.S. member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Beginning with the 2011-12 season, all of the SFU varsity teams will compete in the NCAA’s Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
SFU currently has 19 teams competing in the small-college National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in the U.S. and Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
The Great Northwest Athletic Conference has nine full-member schools in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, and four football-only members in Washington, California, Utah and Oregon.
– The Canadian Press