Cancellation of fall term national championships for the protection of Student-Athlete health and safety; Eligibility regulations refined.
U SPORTS, the national brand of university sports in Canada, announced Monday the cancellation of its six 2020 fall national championships and modifications to eligibility and scholarship regulations in response to the COVID-19 situation.
“U SPORTS has been working hard with the four conferences, our 56 member institutions and medical experts to examine the feasibility of delivering the fall national championships this season,” said Lisette Johnson-Stapley, U SPORTS Chief Sport Officer. “Taking into account the academic realities of university sport, we arrived at a point where a tough decision had to be made.”
The decision comes as a result of the on-going uncertainties with student-athlete health and safety, travel and public health restrictions that affect parts of the country and different curriculum delivery models being proposed on the campus of its 56 member universities.
“Although the Canadian sport system is working together to create evidence-based return to training, practice and competition protocols, it is not currently feasible or safe due to the COVID-19 Pandemic for U SPORTS to be able to offer fall championships given the academic realities of student-sport,” said Dr. Taryn Taylor, U SPORTS Chief Medical Officer and representative on the Own the Podium Return to Sport Task Force. “We continue to work with public health officials across the country to examine possibilities for return to play for the winter 2021 term.”
The affected championships include the sports of women’s field hockey, men’s and women’s cross country running, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s rugby and football including the national semifinals (Mitchell and Uteck Bowls) and the Vanier Cup. The hosts of the cancelled fall 2020 national championships will have the opportunity to host in future years.
Since March, U SPORTS has been working with the four university sport conferences (Atlantic University Sport, Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec, Ontario University Athletics and Canada West) in order to identify ways to deliver university sport to Canadians in the COVID-19 environment. As a result, AUS, OUA and Canada West made announcements today concerning modifications to their competition structures for the 2020 fall term, while the RSEQ continues to be in deliberations and will announce their plans in the near future. U SPORTS and the conferences continue work on a plan for the delivery of the 2021 winter season. An announcement about those plans is expected in the fall.
As a national multisport organization that is based in an academic setting, U SPORTS made changes to exemptions and qualifications pertaining to athletic scholarships (officially known as Athletic Financial Awards, or AFAs) and eligibility.
On June 8, 2020, U SPORTS announced a series of decisions pertaining to sports scholarships (officially known as Athletic Financial Awards or AFAs) and eligibility for the 2020-2021 year including:
- Clarification on qualification for AFAs for returning students taking into consideration pass-fail grades assigned to students in the winter 2020 semester;
- Modifications to the Academic All-Canadian criteria to accommodate pass-fail grades;
- Permitted AFAs to be awarded in the event that 2020-2021 U SPORTS championships are cancelled;
- That there will be no consumption of eligibility in the event that the 2020-2021 U SPORTS championships are not offered;
- The maintaining of all current regulations for eligibility and AFAs for first time entry and transfer students from other jurisdictions;
- The maintaining of Academic Standing regulations for the 2019-2020 academic year
Any questions that student-athletes have pertaining to eligibility and AFAs should be addressed to their university athletic departments.
U SPORTS is beginning its consultation process with member universities and stakeholders to review its football eligibility policies.
“After discussions with our membership, we have determined that it’s an appropriate time to explore ways to improve the current safety and participation policies in football with an anticipated completion date of February 2021,” said Dick White, U SPORTS’ Interim Chief Executive Officer. “Although there are many negative impacts of the COVID pandemic, there are also opportunities to make some changes.”
As a result of the timeframe required to conduct the review, U SPORTS will provide a one-time exception to Policy 184.108.40.206.1.1, thereby permitting all currently eligible student-athletes to participate in the 2021 football season, even if they exceed the current policy before the start of the 2021 campaign.
Any U SPORTS student-athlete who receives an Athletic Financial Award (which requires being listed on the Eligibility Certificate) during the 2020-2021 academic year is subject to a transfer restriction (sit-out) until the conclusion of the regular season of the sport in question’s 2021-2022 athletic season, regardless of whether or not they exceed the traditional Participation Threshold (U SPORTS Policy 220.127.116.11.3).
Any U SPORTS student-athlete who does not receive an AFA (is listed on the Eligibility Certificate), but who exceeds the traditional Participation Threshold (U SPORTS Policy 18.104.22.168.3) during the 2020-2021 academic year is subject to a transfer restriction (sit-out) until the conclusion of the regular season of the sport in question’s 2021-2022 athletic season.
There will be no exceptions other than those pre-existing in the regulation, though the traditional Compassionate Appeals process will be available should an institution wish to submit one on behalf of an incoming or departing student-athlete.
- Student-Athlete A accepts an AFA for the 2020-2021 academic year. Regardless of their participation, they’re required to sit out the entirety of the 2021-2022 season should they chose to transfer.
- Student-Athlete B does not accept an AFA for the 2020-2021 academic year, and is free to transfer for the 2021-2022 season. They are eligible immediately, unless they’ve consumed eligibility by exceeding the Participation Threshold (which would result in a 365 sit-out).
- Student-Athlete C accepts an AFA, but graduates. Student-Athlete C then goes on to a Master’s program at another institution. This student-athlete is eligible immediately, because they’re accessing the Master’s exemption.
Non-Post-Secondary Participation Information
- Student-Athletes listed on a 2019-2020 Official Eligibility Certificate; or,
- Confirmed Recruits with an Officially Registered Letter of Intent (LOI) on U SPORTS Central for 2020-21.
- A student-athlete who was listed on an Eligibility Certificate in 2019-2020 and is returning back to that same institution for the Winter 2021 semester; or,
- A Confirmed Recruit who has signed an official U SPORTS Letter of Intent (LOI) or accepted an offer of admission for the 2020-2021 academic year and is entering into that U SPORTS institution for the Winter 2021 semester.