Landmark day for Cougars

It’s been over 10 years in the making, but the Mount Royal University Cougars are finally in.

The Cougars have been accepted as a probationary member of Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA), the most decorated of the four conferences in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).Canadawest logo

The decision was finalized at Canada West's annual general meeting May 4 in Saskatoon, SK, with the Cougars receiving more than the 75% membership approval which was required for CWUAA acceptance.

“It’s a landmark day for Mount Royal University,” says Mount Royal President Dave Marshall. “For us, it’s just another step in finalizing our transition to a university and another milestone in our 100-year history. It provides a tremendous opportunity and another option for student-athletes who are looking to stay in the city and compete at the CIS level and furthers our mandate to become Canada’s premier undergraduate university."

Athletics Manager, Karla Karch, says she is thrilled with the decision. “For our programs we have always strived to provide excellence and to go to that next level. The fact we’ll soon be competing at the highest level of amateur status is really exciting.”

Not an overnight transition

The Cougars application has been years in the making, with a five member CWUAA selection committee visiting the university in January. With the CWUAA seal of approval the Cougars will receive non-playing status for the 2011/12 season, remaining a member of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC).

Karla Karch
Athletics Manager Karla Karch.

The next step would see the Cougars competing against teams from universities such as University of Alberta, University of Saskatchewan, University of Winnipeg and University of Calgary in the Canada West for the 2012/13 season.

With the Cougars set to join Canada West, it also means the University will be leaving the ACAC and Canadian Colleges Athletics Association (CCAA) in which the Cougars have been an integral part of as a founding member of both organizations.

In 1999, the Cougars were awarded the CCAA Sport Supremacy Award, which recognized Mount Royal as having the most successful collegiate athletic program in Canada over the first 25 years of the CCAA's existence.

Karch says, though the decision is exciting, it also sad to leave behind two such great conferences.

“It is a little bit of a sad day as an ACAC member and CCAA founding member to be leaving that conference. They are exceptionally strong conferences and there are some great athletic directors who care very passionately about the student-athletes and the student-athlete experience.

“But on the same hand we are looking forward to going to that next level.”

New kid on the block

With their inclusion, Mount Royal is set to become the 15th member of Canada West. The university will be competing in the CWUAA in men’s and women’s basketball, hockey, soccer and volleyball.

Though the Cougars will be competing in a new whole conference come the fall of 2012, Karch say’s one thing will never change.

“Mount Royal and Cougar Athletics is about providing an exceptional student experience and no matter what conference we compete in, we will continue to provide that experience to our student-athletes and the school,” said Karch.

The Cougars will still need to pass the final test, as their application will still need to be accepted for (Canada Interuniversity Sport) CIS membership. That application will be reviewed at the CIS annual general meeting, June 6-9 in Victoria, BC.

There are 52 member universities of CIS currently organized into four regional associations including the Atlantic University Sport (AUS), Ontario University Athletics (OUA), Quebec Student Sports Federation (QSSF) and the CWUAA.

”It’s an extremely exciting time for Mount Royal, our athletic department, our fans, supporters and our student-athletes,” said Karch. “You can look forward to some great athletic competition here for many years to come.”

Kyle Henry, May 4, 2011