The University of the Fraser Valley is joining an alliance that promises to provide a unified voice to advocate for student-athletes.
The B.C. Universities Sport Alliance (BCUSA) includes the athletic departments from UFV, the University of British Columbia, the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, the University of Northern BC, Thompson Rivers University, Trinity Western University and the University of Victoria.
All seven are members of the Canada West conference and national governing body U-Sports.
The BCUSA will give their sport programs a more effective platform to provide policy input on a provincial level, and increase awareness and understanding of how universities contribute to the sport system.
“It’s a logical step for us to work collectively within the province to promote and support our student-athletes,” said Steve Tuckwood, UFV director of athletics and campus recreation. “As understanding and appreciation of the role universities play within amateur sport in B.C. grows, it can only be beneficial to all involved.”
The need for a stronger collective voice became clear during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada West’s membership extends across B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, but with COVID-19 protocols determined on a province-by-province basis, a one-size-fits-all approach proved elusive. B.C.’s athletic directors began meeting on a monthly basis to navigate the pandemic together and prepare for an eventual return to sport.
As restrictions began to loosen, exemptions for high-performance athletes were instituted in B.C., but university athletes were not initially included in that group. Based on feedback from the provincial government and lead agency viaSport, it became clear that there was a gap in terms of advocacy for student-athletes.
The BCUSA’s impact will extend beyond simply providing a voice for student-athletes in times of crisis like the pandemic. The organization will advocate for Athlete Assistance Program (AAP) and sport host funding, contribute to safe sport movements, and provide recommendations on policy and coaching development.
There is also potential for the BCUSA to foster further intra-provincial sport collaboration between universities.