Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics regret to announce that they have made a difficult decision to suspend their Canada West participation in men's and women's hockey, men's and women's basketball and men's and women's volleyball for the 2020/2021 seasons for financial reasons.
Cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant, the demand by the Alberta government that universities balance their budget and reduce expenditures in-year, and the reduction to the University of Alberta Athletics and Recreation student fee, which was waived completely for the Spring and Summer semesters, has produced a worst-case scenario for University of Alberta varsity sport, according to Ian Reade, Athletic Director for Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics.
"This scenario has brought most of our diverse revenue streams to a complete halt, and the Athletics budget is no longer able to support participation for the 2020/2021 season," says Reade. "While this is an extremely hard decision for us, it is in the best interest of the student-athletes that we make this decision now so their future is somewhat more clear."
Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics have informed Canada West of their decision so the league can move forward with the schedule creation process for those Canada West teams who still plan to participate in a condensed season for 2020/2021.
On Monday June 8th, Canada West and U SPORTS announced that no conference competition (regular season, playoff, or championships) would occur in football, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s rugby 15s, and women’s field hockey during the first term of the 2020-21 season. Also, Canada West competition for hockey, basketball and volleyball would start no sooner than January 1st, 2021, with the final Canada West decision to be made no later than Oct 8. These decisions by Canada West members were made in the interest of protecting the health and safety of athletes, fans and staff.
The focus now for Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics is to support student-athletes in a variety of different ways.
"We will always be student-athlete centred and plan to create opportunities focused on training and student-athlete development for the 2020/2021 season," says Reade. "We will also look at creating opportunities for meaningful competition as the public health situation allows, both to enhance the student-athlete experience adn to contribute to campus life for University of Alberta students."
Reade adds that they will remain committed to those student-athletes who have written commitments to receive Athletic Financial Assistance.
We will be declaring our participation in Canada West tournament sports including wrestling, cross country, track and field, rugby sevens, curling and swimming (although decisions on those events have not yet been finalized by Canada West or U SPORTS respectively). We are able to do so because these are single events hosted on one weekend. In addition, we remain committed to our responsibility to host the 2021 U SPORTS Wrestling National Championship.