Posted on: June 6, 2017
By Adam Williams
(Posted with Permission of the Kamloops This Week)
League branding and the rules surrounding recruitment and eligibility are what Ken Olynyk expects to be some of the biggest issues at the 2017 U Sports Annual General Meeting and Conference this week.
The Thompson Rivers University athletic director joined representatives from Canada’s 55 other varsity sports franchises in Mississauga on Monday to attend a variety of workshops in the conference before discussing and voting on league-wide issues at the Thursday AGM.
Speaking to KTW last week, Olynyk said he expected rules surrounding eligibility and recruitment will require significant discussion.
The association has been working on a recruiting document and has also been talking about a variety of changes to how it handles eligibility.
Repatriation of Canadian student-athletes after time at American schools and the possibility of instituting one-time transfers between Canadian institutions — without requiring students to sit out for a season of play — will be on the agenda.
“Rules have to be clearer, rules are constantly changing,” he said, referencing the recruiting document the association has been preparing as a step in the right direction.
“Now it’s a matter of what things aren’t clear? What things do we need to continued to educate people on?
“The recruiting aspect is always trying to level the playing field.”
Among the themes for the week of workshops are athlete welfare, broadcasting, U Sports in the Canadian sport landscape, sports statistics, student-athlete mental health, advancing women through university sport, anti-doping and parity and excellence.
The branding of university sport was at the forefront for Olynyk.
“As an example, we need people to be thinking U Sports and forget about CIS [Canadian Interuniversity Sport, the league’s previous name]. That’s a big part of the branding,” he said.
“We’re really excited, personally, at Thompson Rivers University, because we’re going to get to put that on display with the men’s soccer national championship in November.”
Olynyk said student-athlete mental health and advancing women in sport would be two other key issues in Mississauga.
The athletic director said he is proud of the the WolfPack’s track record of advancing women in athletics and hopes mentorship and continued growth will see more women in coaching and leadership roles at the university.
As for mental health, it’s a key issue for not just athletics, but entire universities.
“Mental health in universities, not just societally, but within universities has become a growing concern,” he said.
“I think universities are dealing with that on a regular basis and, obviously, as sport programs and as university sport, we also take great interest in that and trying to make sure we provide all the support and all the opportunities we can to ensure our student-athletes are as sound, in terms of mental health, as possible.
The AGM and conference is U Sports’ 40th and will also include an awards gala and dinner on Wednesday.
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