SFU Logo

With Video Files From Send to News/SFU Athletics

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) membership committee has conditionally approved Simon Fraser University as its first non-American school.


The last step in the process comes August 1 when there will be a final vote by the executive council to decide if the university will become a full member, effective September 1.

“Being able to compete for national championships in the NCAA will instill a sense of pride and engagement in the entire SFU community,” says SFU President Andrew Petter.

“SFU’s ability to participate in the NCAA as a full member provides numerous opportunities to the university, not only in avenues it gives athletes to compete, but it will also build the profile of SFU throughout North America.”

Now entering its third year as the only non-American school in the NCAA, SFU was previously unable to compete in the post-season because the organization requires its members to be accredited through a U.S. accreditation agency.

However, the NCAA approved an exception last week at its annual conference allowing the SFU Clan to compete for championships starting this fall as part of a pilot program. In the meantime, the university is pursuing accreditation with the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities.

“In talking with our student-athletes, it’s very apparent that being the only non-American school in the NCAA is a huge motivator,” said Senior Director of Athletics and Recreation Milton Richards.

“All of our athletes have a tremendous amount of pride being the first to compete for a Canadian school in the NCAA. This brings them all closer to their ultimate goal of winning an NCAA national championship.”

This announcement completes SFU’s transition back to its roots of competing against schools south of the border. SFU Athletics was approved as the first non-American school in the NCAA on July 10, 2009. After a final season in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), the Clan competed in 2010-11 as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC).

“It’s been an awesome journey for me,” says SFU women’s basketball player Kristina Collins. “It’s going to be a big year. Going into my senior year I just want to do my best and help the team reach their potential. Now that we are able to compete for a national championship, we want to prove that we are capable of playing at the level.”

In 2011-12, SFU went through its provisional membership year in the NCAA, in the school’s second season in the GNAC.

As a provisional member, the Clan had several GNAC champions in track and field, and the men’s soccer program won its second consecutive GNAC title. Plus, the women’s basketball team recorded the school’s first ever NCAA conference playoff victory, defeating Seattle Pacific to reach the semi-finals of the GNAC championship tournament.

“I was here when we were in the CIS and have now spent the last two years in the NCAA,” says Bo Palmer, a running back with the SFU football team and a Hamilton Tiger Cats draft pick. “I’ve seen the shift in competition first-hand – the NCAA has bigger, stronger and faster teams. There’s a huge sense of pride knowing that we can win games against some of the best competition out there.”

Fall sports teams will begin preparing for their first season in pursuit of NCAA national championships in mid-August. For information on SFU’s journey into the NCAA, and updates on all teams, visit athletics.sfu.ca.

Reaction from SFU athletes (in order) Kristina Collins (Women’s Basketball), Ibrahim Appiah (Men’s Basketball) and Courtney Triano (Women’s Swimming)


While the NCAA requires that all of its members to be accredited by a regional accrediting agency, they have made an exception in SFU’s case as part of the Canadian pilot program, recognizing that this sort of accreditation does not exist in Canada.

The NCAA President’s Council recommended that SFU be moved forward since the school is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. It also recognized that all Canadian institutions of higher learning are subject to reviews by the Degree Assurance Quality Assurance Board, which conducts peer-to-peer review.

In addition, the NCAA President’s Council recognized various programs within the university have sought and attained ad hoc accreditation.