The Canadian government announced last week that it is pledging up to $402,900 to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Federation for university athletics this year. The catch is that universities will only receive the funding from CIS if a team makes it to Nationals.
“We only get it specifically if we go to Nationals,” said Kerry Laughlin, Concordia’s intercollegiate manager. “The only time CIS would ever send us a cheque would be if we were getting reimbursed for money we have spent to travel to the Nationals. It’s not a grant.”
Last year, only three Stinger teams qualified for Nationals: women’s rugby, men’s and women’s wrestling and men’s and women’s cross-country. So far this year, both the cross-country and women’s rugby teams have repeated those performances.
The CIS foots the bill for travel, but accommodations and any other expenses must be paid for by other means.
“So as soon as these programs have taken place we get a call from CIS saying submit your request for travel funding and we supply it right away,” Laughlin said. “It’s called the travel pool, so just the cost of transportation.”
Since the venue for championships changes every year, the cost to send a team can get expensive. Last year, the women’s rugby squad flew to Vancouver for their competition at the University of British Columbia.
Despite giving themselves a pat on the back for being the largest financial contributor to university sport, the CIS’s funding has dropped significantly compared to five years ago.
The organization is funded through the Government of Canada in conjunction with Sport Canada. In 2003-2004, the CIS was allotted $655,325. Two years later, in 2005-2006, the money was up to $735,000 out of Sport Canada’s $133.4 million budget.
This money is meant to support the 600 coaches, 10,000 athletes and 51 universities across Canada. The government says the money goes to fund “travel costs for student-athletes, coaches, event management personnel, and officials” participating in national championships. In the current system where winning is rewarded, Concordia isn’t getting a fair share, according to Laughlin.
“It doesn’t mean we are getting 1/51 of the money,” he said.
The CIS’s role in everyday operations is to enforce and modify the rulebooks and maintain the infrastructure of the leagues across the country.
Concordia’s department of recreation and athletics is a $4.9 million operation this year, and that funding is not coming from a national organization.
“It doesn’t change the day-to-day,” said Laughlin. “Our money is coming from entrance fees, it comes from registration, it could be sponsorship, it could be facility rental, it could be membership. I mean, there is a whole range of things.”