Hamilton, Ont. – Ontario University Athletics held its 2015 annual general meeting last week at the Village Conference Centre in Blue Mountains, Ont.
“From 11 national championships to two BLG athlete of the year winners to amazing scholastic achievements across the province, the 2014-15 season was one to remember for OUA” said Gord Grace, OUA CEO. “With the progress we made last season and the organizational growth coming out of the AGM, we will continue to strive to be the preeminent university sport conference in Canada for the upcoming season and beyond.”
The meeting was attended by athletic representatives of all 20 member institutions from across OUA.
The following are some highlights and key developments from the meeting:
Enhanced Budget and Human Resources
In support of the 2020 OUA Strategic Plan, membership has committed to a new financial model for the organization, which will see enhanced fees used to provide additional support for new projects and initiatives, as well as additional staffing resources within the OUA office.
Athletic Financial Award Scholarship (AFA) Increases
Beginning in 2016-17, individual Athletic Financial Awards (AFA) aggregate totals across OUA will increase from $4,000 to $4,500. This is the first athletic scholarship increase since the 2013-14 season when the total was increased from $3,500 to the current amount of $4,000.
Ontario University Athletics is committed to focusing on student-athletes and this upcoming individual athletic scholarship increase will attempt to help to ease the financial strain, so student-athletes can focus on continued academic and athletic success.
In an attempt to provide greater financial support of our student-athletes, OUA will work closely with the AFA Task Force to begin a review and develop a long-term strategic plan for the future growth of AFAs in Ontario.
Sport Model Refresh
In 2009, the 19 member institutions of OUA developed a new sport model that would strengthen the organization for years to come. The new model allowed the organization to focus its collective resources while also allowing institutions to determine their own sport priorities. The objectives of the model were to provide a quality student-athlete experience, raise the profile of the OUA brand, and recognize the significance of the student-athlete model.
Phase One of the Sport Model Refresh was carried out over the last year with initial recommendations and feedback provided to the membership.
Through the knowledge and experience of increased OUA staffing, Sport Leadership Groups and OUA Sport Advisory Experts, the conference is dedicated to improving sport leadership for student-athletics across Ontario.
The 2015-16 season will also see some changes to competitive sport structures and formats in the following sports: squash, badminton, tennis, golf and curling. Further details will be made available prior to the start of the season.
Ontario University Athletics is devoted to enhancing student-athlete exposure and next season will see further enhancements to student-athlete recognition including the introduction of weekly OUA-sport specific performances, to compliment the “Pioneer Energy OUA Athlete of the Week.”
Phase Two of the Sport Model Refresh will continue throughout the upcoming season with a specific focus on further development and implementation of league-wide standards.
Addition of Bronze Medal Games in all Final Four Championships Formats
The high level of competition at OUA Final Four Championship events has prompted the introduction of bronze medal games at Final Four tournaments taking place next year. Soccer, volleyball, basketball and field hockey will feature bronze medal games as fixtures of the Final Four Championships in 2015-16 and beyond.
Previously these bronze medal games were only played in order to determine bids into CIS Championships, however, OUA believes that playing these games provides an additional opportunity to showcase the high skill level and achievements of our student-athletes.
Medical Policy & Football Player Safety
New for 2015-16, OUA has developed guidelines and standards as part of a new medical policy that will see improved levels of care for student-athletes both on and off the field. This medical policy will see the establishment of new minimum standards for hosting requirements, concussion management plans, as well as lightning management plans.
In addition to the aforementioned medical policy, OUA has established new regulations around contact in football practices in training camp and regular season. As well, field of play rule changes will also be introduced prior to the start of the football season to help further improve player safety.
The organization will also continue to work on developing other initiatives in additional sports, such as hockey, to improve overall player safety.
Addition of New Teams
Ontario University Athletics will continue to grow next season as several new teams will join the competition.
Starting in the Fall, the Laurentian Voyageurs will take to the trails with the addition of a men’s cross country program. The Voyageurs already feature a women’s cross country team and will become the 17th team competing in men’s cross country in 2015-16.
From the trails to the links, Laurentian will also be adding a women’s golf program next season. The Voyageurs will be one of 14 teams competing in women’s golf across OUA.
As the season shifts to Winter, the Ryerson Rams will be adding both men’s and women’s curling to their roster next season. The club will partner with the Leaside Curling Club as the home ice of the team for training and competition. Ryerson, along with 15 other curling teams, will be looking for gold at the annual OUA championships in February.
For the 2016-17 season, the Brock Badgers will be adding a men’s volleyball program to their growing roster of sports. The Badgers men’s team will complement a successful women’s program that finished third in the OUA West division last season and qualified for the playoffs.
Peter Baxter named next OUA President
Peter Baxter, Director of Athletics and Recreation at Wilfrid Laurier University, has been named the new president of Ontario University Athletics (OUA), effective immediately.
He replaces outgoing OUA president Jennifer Myers from York University who recently completed her term.
Baxter has been Director since May of 1998 and during his tenure, 31 of Laurier's 62 OUA championships and nine of eleven CIS national championships have been won by Golden Hawk teams.
He has represented Canada as Chef de Mission for two World University Games (2009 Winter Universiade in Harbin and 2011 Summer Univerade in Shenzhen, China).
Baxter has also served on numerous Committees and Executive Boards of both the OUA and CIS sport organizations.
Honour Awards Banquet
On Wednesday evening, Ontario University Athletics recognized some of the top student-athletes, coaches and teams from the past season at the Honour Awards Banquet, hosted by TSN SportsCentre anchor and former University Rush host, Laura Diakun.
The Western Mustangs women’s hockey team was named the OUA Team of the Year after finishing the regular season with a 20-1-3 record and captured their first OUA championship banner in program history. The Mustangs rolled through Moncton, Montreal and defending champion McGill, en route to their first-ever CIS national championship.
Windsor Lancers women’s basketball player Korissa Williams and Guelph Gryphons cross country / track and field standout Ross Proudfoot, were named the OUA Female and Male Athletes of the Year, presented by Pioneer Energy. Williams became one the first players in CIS women’s basketball history to win five national championships, while Proudfoot ended his varsity career as a nine-time All-Canadian in cross-country and track and field, a six-time national champion, and with 19 CIS medals to his name (10 team and 9 individual). Both were named the BLG Award winners as Canadian Interuniversity Sport female and male athletes of the year.
Former Brock Badgers women’s basketball head coach Chris Critelli was presented the John McManus Award, presented by GameTapeXchange. Critelli led her hometown Badgers to the playoffs in 22 of her 25 seasons and retired in April 2009 as the all-time winningest coach in Brock women's basketball history with 393 career victories.
Guelph Gryphons men’s hockey head coach Shawn Camp and Windsor Lancers women’s basketball head coach Chantal Vallée were named OUA Male and Female Coaches of the Year, presented by Fox 40. Camp turned a tragic season into one of triumph as he led the Gryphons to their first Queen’s Cup since 1997 and a bronze medal at the CIS national championship. Vallée took home her third OUA Female Coach of the Year award after she led the Lancers to an impressive 19-1 conference record before capturing their sixth OUA title in the past seven seasons. Windsor would go on to become just the second team in CIS history to claim five consecutive (2011-2015) Bronze Baby trophies as national champions.
For their continued support of the McMaster Marauders and OUA, Hamilton-based community broadcaster Cable 14 was presented with the OUA Media Award of Distinction. Cable 14 began broadcasting OUA sports on tape delay in the early 2000’s and since 2008 has broadcast a yearly schedule of McMaster football, basketball, volleyball and soccer games.
In addition to the Honour Awards, the following C.H.A.M.P. (Celebrating and Honouring Achievements in Marketing and Promotions) Awards were handed out for the first time this year: Best Marketing Initiative – Laurier Golden Hawks #OurPurpleIsBetter; Photo of the Year – Queen’s Gaels; Best Webcast Production – Ryerson Rams; Best Video Feature – York Lions “Third and Goal”; and Best Social Media Account – York Lions Instagram.