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Joining the NCAA will mean tougher U.S. competition for Clan football players such as Ibrahim "Obby" Khan (right), now a centre for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League.

SFU athletics to join NCAA

July 23, 2009

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In a historic return to its athletic roots, SFU has been approved as the first non-U.S. member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the world’s largest college sports organization.

Beginning with the 2011-12 season, after a two-year transition period, all of SFU’s Clan varsity teams will compete in the NCAA’s Division II in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC).

The Division II membership committee approved SFU’s application at its meeting July 10 at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, IN.

"This is a first for a Canadian university, and it reflects SFU’s long history of competing in U.S. varsity associations and conferences," says SFU President Michael Stevenson.

"It means a high level of competition and challenge for our athletes. As has always been the case, our primary concern is that our athletes succeed as students. The NCAA has strong academic requirements and we will maintain the high academic standards that SFU has always demanded from all Clan teams."

SFU has 19 Clan teams competing in the small-college National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) in the U.S. and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). Men’s wrestling competes in both the NAIA and CIS. GNAC includes nine full-member schools in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, and four football-only members in Washington, California, Utah and Oregon.

When SFU opened in 1965, the Clan began competing in the NAIA. In 1997, however, many of SFU’s traditional NAIA rivals began moving their programs into the larger NCAA.

SFU applied to gain admittance under an exception based on its history of competing in the NAIA but the NCAA simply tabled the application. The association reopened the issue in 2007 and in January 2008 moved to allow Canadian membership in Division II. There are three Divisions in the NCAA (I, II and III).

"I am extremely pleased with today’s decision," says David Murphy, SFU’s senior director of athletics. "We are reaching back to the original intentions and philosophy of the university’s founders: to offer a great Canadian education with the ability to compete athletically in the NCAA."

Adds Lorne Davies, SFU’s legendary first athletics director: "It is the most important step in SFU athletic history. The athletics department is keeping in step with the university’s commitment to provide excellence in education and athletics and to challenge our students and student athletes to be the best."

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Ahi poke

Congrads to all who made it happen. Your school colors are fine "Red and White". "BUT", come now, Your helmet decal gots to go. Someone from the AD office got to change it. Its time to make a change. Frist impression to all D-II schools means a lot. Go Canada.

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