EDMONTON (CITYNEWS) – Student athletes from three team sports at the University of Alberta saw their season end abruptly on Wednesday.
Citing financial reasons due to COVID-19, the University of Alberta suspended participation in men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s volleyball for the 2020-21 season.
Ian Reade, athletic director for Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics, said in a release that cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant, the Alberta government’s requirement that universities balance their budget and reduce expenditures, and a reduction in student fees combined for a “worst-case scenario.”
“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,” said Reade. “We will always be student-athlete centred and plan to create opportunities focused on training and student-athlete development for the 2020/2021 season.
“We will also look at creating opportunities for meaningful competition as the public health situation allows, both to enhance the student-athlete experience and to contribute to campus life for University of Alberta students.”
The University said it has informed the Canada West conference of the decision so the league can move forward with the schedule creation process.
“University sport continues to be negatively impact financially as a result of COVID-19, which has reduced or eliminated athletic and recreation fees, cut into fundraising efforts, and has been compounded by overall budget cuts to many post-secondary institutions,” Canada West said in a statement.
“We remain hopeful that conference play in basketball, volleyball, and hockey will begin January 2021, and that the University of Alberta will resume Canada West competition in these sports during the 2021-22 season.”
The University of Alberta says it intends to participate in Canada West tournament sports for wrestling, cross country, track and field, rugby sevens, curling and swimming – events hosted over a single weekend.
The announcement comes nine days after U SPORTS announced that no competition 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 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With files from The Canadian Press.