WATERLOO, Ont. - After a thorough review of its athletics and recreation programs, Wilfrid Laurier University has decided to discontinue its men's and women's varsity volleyball teams to address the growing student demand for recreational and intramural sports activities and to help keep other varsity sports competitive.
The decision affects 30 student athletes. The university will maintain the students' sports-related scholarships in the coming fall semester to help them continue their education at Laurier; if an athlete plays on another Laurier varsity team, the university will maintain the full scholarship commitment. The university will also provide assistance to those student athletes who seek to transition to another sport or pursue their volleyball aspirations elsewhere.
"This was a very difficult decision," said PETER BAXTER, director of Athletics & Recreation at Laurier. "Our volleyball players and their coaches are dedicated to their sport. However, faced with ongoing budget challenges and a growing demand for recreational and intramural activities, we have made a decision that we believe will strengthen our remaining varsity teams and allow a greater number of students to participate at the recreational and intramural level."
The decision will free up approximately $112,000 annually and provide more gym time and space for recreation and intramural activities. It will also help support the transfer of up to 12 recreational/sport clubs that the WLU Student Union previously sanctioned and regulated. The Department of Athletics and Recreation will revamp their sport model in the coming months to include a club sport/recreation structure.
Universities across Canada, including Laurier, have faced significant budget challenges in recent years. Laurier has also experienced growth in student enrolment and a corresponding increase in demand for recreational and intramural activities and related facility space. In the past 10 years, the number of intramural teams at Laurier has increased more than 155 per cent and waiting lists continue to grow. The number of individuals participating in instructional sports and exercise is up 159 per cent.
In recent years, Laurier's Athletics & Recreation department has sought to increase revenue and decrease costs in a variety of ways, including increases to the participation fee paid by student athletes and the introduction of a self-funded "pay to play" model for eight varsity sports. However, it was determined that ongoing across-the-board budget restrictions for all teams would only weaken the university's ability to field competitive teams at the provincial and national levels.
In light of all these factors, the university undertook a detailed review of its varsity and recreation programs and budgets. All varsity teams were evaluated on a wide range of criteria. It was determined that the men's and women's volleyball teams, which have struggled to be competitive over the past five years, would require a doubling of financial resources to make the Laurier teams competitive with the top OUA volleyball universities. This, coupled with the overall program evaluation, led to the decision to discontinue varsity volleyball at Laurier.
"Everything goes back to our Athletics & Recreation vision statement, which commits us to strive for excellence in both our varsity and recreational programming," said Baxter. "If we cannot support a specific program financially to the level of excellence needed to compete at the provincial and national levels, then we must discontinue that program and use the resources to strengthen areas of need."
Supporting documents can be viewed here.