EDMONTON – Following a Thursday meeting of the Canada West (CW) Board of Directors, the University of Alberta's hockey programs will be part of conference play during the 2020-21 season should CW hit the ice beginning in January.
Alberta's reinstatement, effective immediately, was approved by the CW Board following a formal request last week from the U of A indicating their desire to compete in men's and women's hockey this season.
Alberta had previously announced on June 17th that the school would be suspending CW competition for the 2020-21 season in a number of sports, including hockey, due to financial restraints. The Golden Bears and Pandas request to be reinstated came following new financial support from donors.
A meeting of the conference's Board was required to assess Alberta's request, as the Canada West sport declaration deadline – the annual date by which schools must declare the sports in which they will compete in the upcoming season – had passed June 30th.
"Our Canada West Board understands that we are not dealing with business as usual, and that flexibility is required to ensure we do everything possible to allow our members to navigate these uncertain times. If it's determined that a Canada West hockey schedule is possible for this season, we are pleased that the University of Alberta’s Golden Bears and Pandas programs will take part." – CW President Clint Hamilton.
Thursday's meeting was convened solely to discuss Alberta's desire to compete in hockey, as reinstatement for the school's other suspended CW programs – men's and women's basketball and volleyball – wasn't requested.
The reinstatement was approved due to a number of factors, including that CW scheduling for the 2020-21 season hasn't progressed beyond a point of reasonable alteration, along with the Board's desire to ensure Alberta student-athletes were given the opportunity to compete at the CW level.
Alberta and the conference's other eight hockey members are hoping to take the ice this season beginning in January, with a decision on whether a truncated CW schedule will be played coming no later than October 8th. CW previously announced the cancellation of first term team competitions on June 8th.
Ultimately a decision on commencement of the 2020-21 CW season will be contingent on ensuring student-athlete health and safety. The decision will be informed by the conference's COVID-19 Task Force, and made via a vote of Canada West's 17 members.