UWinnipeg fights against tiered leagues in CIS

Axworthy argues tiering wouldn't reflect athletic success of smaller institutions

University of Winnipeg president Lloyd Axworthy is fighting against the proposed creation of a two-tiered competition system within the Canada West Conference of Canadian Interuniversity Sport by 2012. The proposal has been championed by the University of British Columbia, with the support of several other schools, after the university nearly joined the U.S.-based NCAA last week.

The change would divide schools by size, putting smaller universities on a second tier within the CIS, and would give teams from larger schools more opportunities to compete against one another.

In a letter to George Iwama, chairman of the Council of Western Canadian University Presidents, Axworthy asks for the proposal to be thrown out, arguing that it is “incongruent” with the structure of the CIS and the nature of its operations.

“Athletes and teams from all member institutions–larger or smaller–have enjoyed competitive records when compared with others. There is no reason, in my view, that this tradition should not or cannot continue,” Axworhy wrote.

Axworthy goes on to say that the proposal takes on a “bigger is better” approach that does not reflect the individual successes of athletes and teams from smaller institutions, pointing out that schools such as Brandon and Thompson Rivers universities have recently medaled in volleyball, and that the U of W’s Wesman volleyball team has won 10 national championships.

“We all believe in the importance of our athletic activities and how they enhance the mission of all our universities and we are best able to do this working together in a collective manner,” writes Axworthy.

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