U SPORTS announced Friday changes to the Athletic Financial Awards (AFAs) program in the sport of women’s hockey.

Effective Sept. 1, 2022, the Women’s Hockey Pilot Project (WHPP) will transition to align with AFA regulations in all other U SPORTS-sanctioned sports. As a result, the maximum award provided to incoming student-athletes will be capped at tuition and compulsory fees. This means the total award units for women’s hockey remains intact at 14, and the total funds a member institution can distribute has not changed.

Rather, only the distribution values across student-athletes will be modified, with each member institution continuing to have the ability to divide the award units to as many student-athletes as they chose, respectively.

“While there have been substantial efforts to advance the Women’s Hockey Pilot Project over the last seven years, its success has been difficult to measure and the membership did not feel the program was reaching its initial objectives. We will continue to work with our members and partners in the Canadian sport system on the growth of all our sanctioned sports, especially women’s hockey in order to keep our talented Canadian players competing at home.”

Dick White - U SPORTS Interim CEO

The WHPP was initially launched in 2014 as a five-year pilot and permitted U SPORTS women’s hockey programs for the first time to offer an enhanced AFA covering tuition, compulsory fees, as well room and board. The project was extended the last two seasons in order to facilitate the gathering of additional data to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

As the WHPP transitions back to align with other U SPORTS sanctioned-sports in time for the 2022-23 season, all current women's hockey student-athletes who were in receipt of an enhanced AFA, or prospective women's hockey student-athletes who sign a U SPORTS Letter of Intent prior to Sept. 1, 2022, will be able to access the funds for the entirety of their eligibility. 

U SPORTS will continue to explore improvements and eliminate barriers to all AFA programs, through the ongoing work of its AFA, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Eligibility committees.