UFV applauds basketball format change

Current format has been blasted for creating two tiers that favour established programs.

Under the current basketball format

Under the current basketball format

The University of the Fraser Valley is pleased with a change to the Canada West basketball format that will see the adoption of a single-conference.

The format change will affect both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Beginning with the 2016-17 season, the 17 Canada West basketball schools will abandon the current two-conference format for a single conference featuring a 20-game regular season schedule. Each team will play four geographical or historical opponents every year, with games against six of the remaining 12 opponents every other year. Over four years, each team will play every team in the conference at least twice, and will visit every gym in Canada West at least once.

“As a department, we think this is a much better basketball solution for our players and fans,” said Steve Tuckwood, UFV’s director of athletics and campus recreation. “This will allow us to have a much better Canada West experience by playing against a broader cross-section of teams, making for a more competitive atmosphere in basketball.”

Under the current format, which took effect in the 2014-15 season, long-established Canada West members like the UBC Thunderbirds had played in one conference, while newer programs like the Cascades played in another. That was despite the strength of some of the newer programs, like UFV’s powerhouse women’s basketball team. The move led UFV president Mark Evered to pen an open letter in 2013 denouncing the alignment.

“This decision will impact . . . our ability to recruit and retain young athletes, our reputation, and our contributions to the athletic development of our region,” Evered wrote at the time.

The format overhaul should ease some of those concerns.

Beginning in 2015-16, the Cascades will play fellow B.C. teams Trinity Western, Thompson Rivers, UBC Okanagan and UNBC on an annual basis, while facing the rest of the Canada West squads in the regular season every second year.