Field hockey

UPEI’s field hockey team in limbo about var­sity hockey sta­tus.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHARLES REID

The UPEI Pan­thers field hockey team is in limbo af­ter an At­lantic Univer­sity Sport mo­tion elim­i­nated the Pan­thers and St. Mary’s Huskies’ route to the 2015 na­tional univer­sity cham­pi­onship.

It means UPEI and Saint Mary’s can’t com­pete for a Cana­dian In­teruni­ver­sity Sport cham­pi­onship be­cause it won’t be un­der the AUS ban­ner at the na­tion­als. Dal­housie field hockey isn’t sign­ing on as an AUS mem­ber this sea­son.

And Barb Carmichael, pres­i­dent of the P.E.I. Field Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion, is steamed about the de­ci­sion made at the AUS an­nual gen­eral meet­ing ear­lier this year in Ot­tawa.

“It’s a mean-spir­ited mo­tion. “(The AUS) said it was to clean up the or­ga­ni­za­tion. They never gave us a chance to ex­plain,” said Carmichael, who’s also the UPEI field hockey team man­ager. “We’ve been work­ing hard try­ing to get the mo­tion out of the way.”

That work has in­cluded an online pe­ti­tion de­mand­ing the AUS re­scind its de­ci­sion and re-in­stall the sta­tus quo. If UPEI con­tin­ues, it will be a club team this year. Club teams are funded at a lower level than var­sity and can’t com­pete for AUS and CIS ti­tles.

Last sea­son, UPEI, Dal and SMU played in a seven-team cir­cuit called the At­lantic Univer­sity Field Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion.

In 2005, field hockey was dropped as an AUS sport as there were only two teams reg­is­tered (the AUS re­quires three teams.)

With the AUS out, the CIS would have had only two con­fer­ences re­main­ing (Can West, OUA) and field hockey would be dropped as a CIS sport.

But AUFHA, OUA and the CIS struck a deal that the team win­ning the league ti­tle and reg­is­tered as a AUS var­sity team can pay na­tional reg­is­tra­tion fees to the CIS, play in the On­tario con­fer­ence play­offs and reach the CIS na­tional tour­ney.

“It has been a very suc­cess­ful path­way that had grown to three CIS pay­ing mem­bers (SMU, UPEI, Dal) and four club teams (St. F.X., Aca­dia, UNB, Mt. Al­li­son). This mo­tion now de­stroys the CIS field hockey pro­gram across Canada,” said Carmichael. “But more im­por­tantly our play­ers lose CIS aca­demic all-Cana­dian awards, many ath­letic schol­ar­ships and CIS awards.”

For Phillip Cur­rie, AUS ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, the mo­tion, car­ried by an 8-3 vote of com­mit­tee mem­bers, was about clar­i­fy­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s po­si­tion on hy­brid path­ways to the na­tion­als.

And, he said, ath­letic di­rec­tors were con­cerned about fund­ing club teams go­ing to na­tional univer­sity cham­pi­onships and club ath­letes earn­ing na­tional awards such as all-Cana­di­ans and aca­demic all-Cana­di­ans at the ex­pense of var­sity ath­letes.

“It’s some­thing we’ve wanted to clean up for a while. Clearly mem­bers know what path­way they want to go,” he said.

Cur­rie is aware of the pe­ti­tion, but said if play­ers want var­sity field hockey, then they should talk to their ath­letic di­rec­tors about sign­ing the proper forms.

“Ath­letes should ad­vo­cate on cam­pus ( for ADs) to check the box and be­come an AUS sport.”

Na­tion­ally, with only two of three-needed con­fer­ences CIS field hockey is in limbo, too.

See the pe­ti­tion at www.change.org.

JASON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

The UPEI Pan­thers field hockey team is in limbo af­ter a mo­tion by At­lantic Univer­sity Sport blocks path to the na­tional cham­pi­onship for UPEI and Saint Mary’s.

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