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Executive Committee paves way for Simon Fraser to be NCAA’s first international member

By Gary Brown

Simon Fraser University of Burnaby, B.C., effectively was approved as the NCAA’s first international member Wednesday when the NCAA Executive Committee supported modifying the Association’s accreditation policies to account for international schools that have attained their nation’s equivalent of accreditation and have been accepted into candidacy in one of six U.S. accreditation programs specified in the NCAA constitution.

The Division II Presidents Council asked the Executive Committee about altering a portion of the NCAA constitution that currently requires all NCAA members to be accredited by a U.S. regional accrediting agency. With endorsement now from the Executive Committee, the Division II Presidents Council will almost certainly approve noncontroversial legislation at its Aug. 9 meeting to amend the accreditation requirement for institutions participating in the Canadian pilot program. Once that is done, Simon Fraser will begin active membership as an NCAA Division II institution beginning Sept. 1.

While Simon Fraser is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada, which establishes and evaluates operational standards for institutions, the type of American academic accreditation the NCAA requires is not available in Canada. As part of its desire to become an NCAA member, Simon Fraser has been accepted into candidacy by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, but the process will not be complete until 2017 at the earliest.

In all other ways, Simon Fraser has completed the Division II membership process in good standing. The Division II Membership Committee approved the institution as an active member at its July meeting.

The policy modification the Division II Presidents Council is expected to approve would allow international members to be accepted as active members if:

  • The international institution is accredited by one of the six U.S. regional accrediting agencies (NCAA Constitution 3.2.3.3); or
  • The international institution is a candidate for accreditation with one of the six U.S. regional accrediting agencies and is in good standing with its country’s national, regional or provincial accreditation agency.

International membership was made possible by the Executive Committee’s adoption of a 10-year pilot program in 2008. So far, Simon Fraser is the only institution to have matriculated.

The original pilot pertained only to Canadian institutions, but the Executive Committee on Wednesday expanded it to include Mexico based on a recommendation from the Division II Presidents Council to do so. The Presidents Council made its request after at least one Mexican school (Monterrey Tech) expressed interest in exploring Division II membership.

With expansion of the pilot approved, the Division II Presidents Council could sponsor a legislative proposal for the 2013 NCAA Convention to allow schools from Mexico to enter the Division II membership process. The Council will consider that action at its Aug. 9 meeting.