U Sports cancels Vanier Cup, other fall championships because of COVID-19
EDMONTON -- The university sports landscape will look dramatically different this fall.
The governing body for sports on Canadian campuses has cancelled six national championships, including the prestigious Vanier Cup because of COVID-19.
It’s the first time since it began in 1965 that the Canadian championship in university football won’t be played.
“We’re concerned. Obviously we’re not in a bubble, so it’s not just happening to us,” said Vang Ioannides, the University of Alberta’s athletics director.
Through programs at 56 schools, including the University of Alberta, nearly 20,000 athletes are affected.
“Student athletes need to know ‘I am relocating? Are we having a season?’” Ioannides said.
Football, soccer, rugby are cancelled. Decisions on golf, cross country running and swimming will be made by mid-July, and it’s ‘to be determined’ for other sports like hockey, volleyball and basketball.
“The only announcement from today is that there won’t be any scheduled league games, at least, until January 1 now.”
“The reality is this country has just gone through a very traumatic experience,” said U of A Golden Bears Football Coach Chris Morris.
Campuses will remain virtually empty this fall. U of A students were not charged athletic and recreation fees this spring or summer, money that athletic programs like football depend on.
“There’s just no funding for athletics if we don’t have a student body here, and the reality is that’s a big part of this decision,” Morris said.
Student athletes, like quarterback Brad Launhardt, won’t lose a year of eligibility, and will keep their scholarships, but many face tough decisions.
“Some guys they might be in school to play football and they got to judge whether it might be best for them to go work for a year,” Launhardt said.
“They’re going to have to decide whether or not, ok am I going to play out this last year of football or am I going to join the real world per se and get a job,” Morris said.
Morris says he hopes to run some sort of program this fall, focussing on training for when the game does return to campus.
“If for one fall we don’t get to play, well you know what, that’s too bad. It’s unfortunate, and I feel really, really bad for the kids in our program because they’re the ones that put the work in.”