The Province

UBC set to announce its varsity athletics survivors

- — Howard Tsumura

Survival still hangs in limbo for some varsity sports as UBC is expected on Friday to announce the final findings of its athletic review process.

Multiple sources close to the situation have told The Province that eight more programs at the university will avoid the chopping block, bringing to 24 the total number of varsity sports competing under the blue-and-gold Thunderbir­ds umbrella, one which has distinguis­hed itself as the most decorated championsh­ip sports program in Canadian Interunive­rsity Sports history.

Seven of the eight sports expected to get the green light are men’s hockey, women’s soccer, baseball, men’s volleyball, men’s and women’s golf and women’s rugby.

UBC’s four ski teams — men’s and women’s alpine, men’s and women’s Nordic — are each expected to lose varsity status. It was not certain whether the softball team or the men’s field hockey team would retain its varsity status.

Since the initial 16 program survivors were announced on Jan. 21, the remaining 13 teams had gone into survival mode, each presenting its case to the review committee. Men’s hockey and baseball, in particular, presented dynamic, innovative future plans and were able to come forward with substantia­l funds raised through their respective alumni.

Also expected to be announced Friday is the school’s decision to place all of its 24 surviving varsity programs into three distinct tiers, with the higher the tier, the higher the level of school funding and resources available.

As well, it is believed that every varsity sports program at UBC will undergo a similar department review every five years. If accurate, that’s troubling because that time period mimics an athlete’s five-year CIS eligibilit­y, and would thus make four out of every five recruiting classes question whether their sport would be safe for their duration of the time at the school.

Sports that survived the opening round of cuts at UBC: Basketball (men, women), cross-country (men, women), field hockey (women), football (men), hockey (women), rowing (men, women), rugby (men), soccer (men), swimming (men, women), track and field (men, women), volleyball (women).

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