NCAA and SFU Athletics


The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) membership committee has approved Simon Fraser University as its first non-American school.

The last step in the membership process came in August 2012 when a final vote by the executive council was made for the university to become a full member, effective September 1, 2012.

“Being able to compete for national championships in the NCAA will instil a sense of pride and engagement in the entire SFU community,” says SFU President Andrew Petter. 

“SFU’s ability to participate in the NCAA as a full member provides numerous opportunities to the university, not only in avenues it gives athletes to compete, but it will also build the profile of SFU throughout North America.”

Now entering its third year as the only non-American school in the NCAA, SFU was previously unable to compete in the post-season because the organization requires its members to be accredited through a U.S. accreditation agency.

However, the NCAA approved an exception at its annual conference allowing the SFU Clan to compete for championships starting this fall as part of a pilot program. In the meantime, the university is pursuing accreditation with the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities.

“In talking with our student-athletes, it’s very apparent that being the only non-American school in the NCAA is a huge motivator,” said Senior Director of Athletics and Recreation Milton Richards. 

"All of our athletes have a tremendous amount of pride being the first to compete for a Canadian school in the NCAA. This brings them all closer to their ultimate goal of winning an NCAA national championship."

This announcement completes SFU’s transition back to its roots of competing against schools south of the border. SFU Athletics was approved as the first non-American school in the NCAA on July 10, 2009. After a final season in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), the Clan competed in 2010-11 as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC).

“It’s been an awesome journey for me,” says SFU women’s basketball player Kristina Collins. “It’s going to be a big year. Going into my senior year I just want to do my best and help the team reach their potential. Now that we are able to compete for a national championship, we want to prove that we are capable of playing at the level.” 

In 2011-12, SFU went through its provisional membership year in the NCAA, in the school’s second season in the GNAC.

As a provisional member, the Clan had several GNAC champions in track and field, and the men’s soccer program won its second consecutive GNAC title. Plus, the women’s basketball team recorded the school’s first ever NCAA conference playoff victory, defeating Seattle Pacific to reach the semi-finals of the GNAC championship tournament.

“I was here when we were in the CIS and have now spent the last two years in the NCAA,” says Bo Palmer, a running back with the SFU football team and a Hamilton Tiger Cats draft pick. “I’ve seen the shift in competition first-hand – the NCAA has bigger, stronger and faster teams. There’s a huge sense of pride knowing that we can win games against some of the best competition out there.”

Fall sports teams will begin preparing for their first season in pursuit of NCAA national championships in mid-August.  For information on SFU’s journey into the NCAA, and updates on all teams, visit

As an active member of the NCAA, Simon Fraser University is held responsible for the actions of all persons and organizations engaged in activities that promote our athletic interests. Therefore the university must ensure that our coaches, student-athletes, faculty and staff abide by all applicable NCAA regulations.

In addition to educating these groups, we are also responsible for informing "representatives of our athletic interests" - alumni, donors and friends - of what they may and may not do in supporting our university and our athletic programs. It is especially important to note that recruitment of prospective student-athletes is the sole responsibility of SFU coaches. Representatives of our athletic interests (“boosters”) are not permitted to be involved in the recruiting process.

We therefore need your co-operation to ensure our full compliance with NCAA rules. Violations could affect the eligibility of prospective or current student-athletes; result in the imposition of penalties by the NCAA; and lead to restrictions on your involvement with our athletic programs.

Thank you for your tremendous support of our entire athletics program. Our administration, coaches, and — most importantly — our student-athletes are very appreciative of the spirit with which you embrace our sports programs.

NCAA transition timeline




September 2009

NCAA Membership Candidacy Year One

NWCCU application accepted

Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and National Athletic Intercollegiate Association (NAIA)

  • CIS and NAIA Championships

September 2010

NCAA Membership Candidacy Year Two

NWCCU application accepted

Competing in NCAA Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC)

  • National Athletic Intercollegiate Association (NAIA)

September 2011

NCAA Provisional Membership

NWCCU Self-Study submitted; NWCCU site visit; SFU accepted as NWCCU Candidate

Competing in NCAA Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC)

  • Eligible for GNAC conference championships

September 2012

NCAA Full ACTIVE Membership

SFU accepted as NWCCU Candidate

Competing in NCAA Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC)

  • Eligible for GNAC championships and NCAA championships

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)