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