NCAA Hockey In Canada? September 19, 2012 9:20 AM
While nearly every hockey fan in Canada is talking about the NHL lockout, something different may be brewing in the back rooms of several major Canadian Universities.
A few weeks ago, a little noticed announcement was made in Vancouver. It was announced that Burnaby’s Simon Fraser University was approved as the first international school in the NCAA.
While SFU currently does not have a varsity hockey team – it has a sports club which competes in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League, a 6- year-old organization which boasts seven members including, one American team from Eastern Washington University – that hasn’t stopped school officials from openly pondering the possibility of the school competing in NCAA Division I hockey sometime in the near future.
SFU’s 17 NCAA varsity sports teams compete in NCAA Division II, meaning they would have to petition to be allowed to play in Division I hockey. There is no Division II hockey available and, as per NCAA regulations, they would not be permitted to play in the lower-tier Division III hockey.
NCAA hockeywould almost certainly explode in a market like Vancouver which is not only unwavering in its support of the NHL’s Canucks, but also has embraced major junior hockey in the form of the WHL’s Giants and Junior “A” hockey with a handful of BCHL teams.
After reading this release, we made several calls to other Canadian Universities, and the thought of joining the NCAA was something everyone was talking about. Many people within organizations voiced that they would like to be able to do this and keep Canadian born players playing in Canada rather than loosing them to the United States. Canadian pride, and having the ability to continue to develop their own players was at the heart of most of these conversations.
While many people cited the challenges they may face in attempting to join the NCAA, many also said they would be willing to take those challenges on. If SFU attempts to take its BCIHL to the NCAA level, they will first need to find a suitable facility. But once that hurdle is overcome, they could be the first of many programs in Canada to change over to the NCAA model.
TJHN will update this story as it develops.
By Joseph Kolodziej