Sport Review


In 2011, after a lengthy assessment, UBC made a difficult decision not to pursue athletic competition in the NCAA. Due to comments received in making that decision, President Stephen Toope announced a review of UBC Athletics. The university began a review in 2012. Most University departments undergo similar periodic reviews, coming out of a need to ensure a rigorous focus on excellence, stewardship of resources, and alignment with the strategic commitments of the University. Among other outcomes, the review resulted in the development of a new Competitive Sport Model for our Vancouver campus. More…

Update: February 28, 2014

UBC announces results of sport review, confirms varsity teams

Media Release | February 28, 2014

The University of British Columbia announced today the result of the sport review of the 29 Vancouver campus varsity teams.

Following a two-stage assessment, 24 teams have retained varsity status and fall into three groups:

  • those most ready to excel
  • ongoing varsity
  • teams that need more time to develop new models of community support.

The remaining five teams will become UBC competitive clubs.

“This review has re-energized support for UBC’s teams,” said President Stephen Toope. “Our community has told us they want as many varsity teams as possible, and they want the opportunity to help us achieve our vision. We’ve heard them, and we look forward to seeing this translated into solid action in the months ahead.”

During the course of the review, fans and community supporters pledged a total of $4.8 million to help strengthen teams.

“We now have a strong new model that sharpens our focus on excellence,” said Louise Cowin, VP Students. “While keeping 24 teams, our approach will concentrate resources where teams are demonstrating success in achieving our vision.”

The review confirmed five groups of criteria by which to evaluate varsity teams. The University is moving forward with a new sport model that will focus enhanced resources – specifically sport science and medicine, management and marketing — on those varsity teams most ready to achieve excellence across all the criteria. (See background)

Four teams emerged from the review with unique funding needs involving a hybrid of community or innovative commercial partnerships. These teams retain their status and have been given more time to confirm their future.

The five teams that will become UBC competitive clubs will receive support that includes honorariums for coaches, access to training facilities and support for skill development. The University has also begun assessing AMS club teams for the competitive club grouping, allowing more students to participate in competitive sport.

UBC will implement the new sport model in September 2015, following a year of transition.


Confirmed Vancouver campus varsity teams

Among confirmed varsity teams, UBC will focus enhanced resources (specifically sport science and medicine, management and marketing) on teams that have been assessed most ready to achieve excellence across the criteria.

Teams to receive enhanced support (seven)

  • Basketball: men and women
  • Football: men
  • Swimming: men and women
  • Volleyball: men and women

Teams to receive current support with some limited enhancements (thirteen)

  • Cross country: men and women
  • Field hockey: women
  • Golf: men and women
  • Ice hockey: women
  • Rowing: men and women
  • Rugby: men
  • Soccer: men and women
  • Track and field: men and women

Teams, each in unique situations, given more time to pursue hybrid funding (four)

  • Baseball: men
  • Field hockey: men
  • Ice hockey: men
  • Rugby: women

Teams realigned to competitive club* (five)

  • Alpine skiing: men and women
  • Nordic skiing: men and women
  • Softball: women

*Varsity teams realigned to competitive clubs will have permission to continue to compete with the Thunderbird name. The branding for other clubs joining the competitive club strand will be determined for 2015-16.

Additional competitive clubs:

In order to achieve its goal for more student participation in competitive sports, UBC Athletics will assess and decide on new competitive club teams in March 2014, pilot these clubs in September 2014, and launch the program in summer 2015.

Next steps

UBC launches its new sport model in September 2015. By then, all varsity teams will have completed a five-year sport plan, and will subsequently undergo annual performance reviews.

Evaluation criteria for team assessments included five categories:

  • Competitive success, competition and progression
  • Supports for competitive success
  • Community support and tradition
  • Partnerships
  • Fit with UBC mission

UBC advisory assessment team members:

  1. Chair: Ashley Howard (UBC Managing Director, Athletics and Assessment Team Chair)
  2. UBC Varsity Team representative: Theresa Hanson (UBC Associate Director, Intercollegiate and High Performance Sport)
  3. Faculty: Prof. Richard Price (UBC Senior Advisor to the President and former varsity athlete)
  4. Student: Alex Brown (Former UBC varsity athlete and current B.Sc. student)
  5. Student: Caroline Wong (AMS President)
  6. Recent Varsity Graduate: Chris Mark (Former UBC varsity athlete, member of the young thunderbird alumni council, Political Science graduate, consultant in mining exploration)
  7. Alumni:  Ian Robertson (Chair of the UBC Thunderbird Council- Alumni and Odlum Brown Vice President)
  8. Alumni: Doug Clement  (Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Medicine, Division of Sports Medicine, UBC; Former Olympic and UBC Coach)
  9. Alumni: Nick Hopewell (Member of the Thunderbird Council, former varsity athlete, lawyer with Simpson Thomas and Associates)
  10. High performance expert: Marion Lay (President of Think Sport Ltd and Adjunct Professor, School of Kinesiology, UBC)

Supporting positions:

  1. Alnoor Aziz (UBC Associate Director supporting with figures and data)
  2. Ben Pollard (UBC Director of VP, Students, Portfolio Initiatives, supporting with statistics and analysis)
  3. Nicole Freeman (Event and Sport Tourism Manager, supporting with Sport Review administration)

Summary of team assessments, by grouping: