What you need to know

UTMAC and UTMSU representatives, varsity athletes, students, and athletics programs representatives from all three U of T campuses came together to discuss U of T’s sport model review on Tuesday.

Beth Ali, U of T’s director of intercollegiate and high-performance sport, presented the sport model review. It was made up of three components: intercollegiate, high-performance, and club sport.

It was explained that the athletic departments at UTM and Scarborough have one of the largest co‐curricular sport models currently in place, but the campuses are seemingly underused. The current U of T sport model seems to be stagnant, and currently can’t compare with those of other universities.

Ali explained that the funding for varsity sports at U of T is significantly lower than at other universities, making it difficult to recruit top athletes. Without such funding, varsity athletes have to fundraise and pay out of their pockets for expenses like accommodation, transportation, and meals. And without many such athletes, it’s difficult to attract students who are academically and athletically competitive.

There’s also less revenue, and therefore an athletics community that isn’t as strong as
U of T’s academic reputation. The new sport model is designed to provide more funding to the core teams at the club sport level and to increase participation.

“Having a variety of sports offered at all three campuses not only could increase access, opportunity, and school spirit,” said Chris Thompson, the president of the UTM Students’ Union, “but [could] allow U of T to lead the way in rallying several communities around branding the Varsity Blues and possible spark new life to varsity sport in the GTA.”

In the new sport model, both UTM and UTSC would be home to two varsity sports that practise and compete at the two campuses. The other teams, such as lacrosse and tennis, would be relocated to the suburban campuses.

“Athletics are a huge part of a university experience that most UTM students don’t get exposed to during their studies,” said Brent Page, the co-captain of the Varsity Blues baseball team and a UTM PhD student. “Intercollegiate athletics are awesome from a fan perspective and a player perspective. It brings students together, creates school spirit, and gives students a sense of pride in their school.”

But first, the demand for varsity teams at UTM and UTSC needs to be assessed.

“UTM is capable of fostering varsity sports as the necessary adjustments (such as marketing) are increasingly being made to teach that goal,” said Adam Niaz, the president of UTMAC. He added that UTMAC will promote varsity sports and “try to provide as many resources as possible to the varsity teams that would call UTM home”.

Students and athletes can provide feedback on the proposed sport model until December 3 by attending the consultations. They can also respond online and or by sending an email to Beth Ali at beth.ali@utoronto.ca.

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