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UNBC gains acceptance into Canada West

UNBC can finally enter Canada West.

An ongoing process years in the making has ended with the positive result the university's athletics department has been seeking. Tuesday morning, the university announced that the majority of the Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA) voted in favour of UNBC's latest application for full membership.

"I'm am very excited for our region, our amazing fans, and our student-athletes and coaches as we take this large step forward to bringing the best and brightest to UNBC and our community," UNBC President George Iwama stated in a press release. "Canada West's decision allows their association to reach the very deserving families and youth of northern British Columbia and further provides UNBC the opportunity to be a sport leader in the region."

Needing at least 75 five per cent support, UNBC received the necessary amount of votes in favour of their inclusion in the the CWUAA. Through an electronic vote, more than 84 per cent of CWUAA members voted yes to UNBC joining Canada West. CWUAA directors had five business days to reply with their votes following a special conference call on Sept. 12.

At this year's Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) annual general meeting in Victoria in June, UNBC fell only a couple of votes short of the required 75 per cent majority. They took advantage of an opportunity to re-apply in late July.

"We were so close and I think the Canada West executive took a look at that and felt that it would probably be in everyone's best interest to re-visit the application," UNBC director of athletics and recreation Jason Kerswill said.

The special meeting was called by members of the CWUAA executive. President Sandy Slavin noted that they're already making adjustments with Calgary's Mount Royal University joining in the new year, so they wanted to give UNBC another chance at gaining acceptance for 2012-13. Under bylaws, they can give any unsuccessful institution an opportunity to re-apply at any time.

"A lot of people feel that they have a few strong application and that they have a very strong institution," Slavin said. "I think we add another strong institution into our mix and certainly one with a very proven record in terms of being successful, particularly with their basketball, but certainly they have been very committed to investing in their soccer with the same intent."

Under previous athletic director Len McNamara, UNBC first applied to join Canada West in 2008, attempting to join the sports governing body as a probationary member in basketball. Changes at the university and in Canada West influenced their bid packages since then.

Mount Royal was successful in gaining membership at the Canada West AGM in May. UNBC expected a vote at the meeting, but the CWUAA requested that soccer be a part of the 2012 package. Another month was provided for UNBC to adjust its application. They came back with a enhanced bid, which included a proposal to increase their budget by $200,000, extra funds to cover the hiring of full-time soccer coaches and offset additional travel costs.

UNBC's acceptance to Canada West brings its total number of members to 16, 13 of which are considered full members. UNBC, Mount Royal and UBC-Okanagan of Kelowna are probationary members.

"It's definitely not a marathon for us right now, it'll be a sprint as we prepare for next September," Kerswill said. "But I know our coaches are up to the task and I know a lot of our players will be excited today."

 

 

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