Kwantlen spiking varsity athletics program due to budget constraints

NEWTON — In a shocking announcement, student athletes at Kwantlen Polytechnic University will have only one more season to play for KPU due to budget constraints.

On Wednesday, the school announced it would be ending its varsity athletics program. Following discussions with regional sport authority PACWEST, the school determined they could keep running its soccer, golf, basketball and badminton programs through the 2015/16 season.

The decision stems from KPU’s five-year financial strategy, laid out in its Vision 2018 document and the Academic Plan.

"As our budget shifts to better align with the achievement of the goals of the plan, we have determined we cannot make the substantial investment in staff, coaches and facilities necessary to become competitive in varsity athletics," read the initial press release.

Jane Fee, vice provost of students at KPU, clarified that the annual cost of $750,000 to run the program is not being cut from the school’s budget, but rather repurposed in an effort to benefit a broader sporting community at the school.

"We are realigning that funding into programming that will better support the health and wellness of all of our student body," Fee told the Now.

"After looking at what it would cost us to stay in the varsity athletics game and in fact move up… we realized that that was going to be a very major investment of both operating and capital funding to get us there. And it would mean that our investment in this area would focus on a very small number of students at one of our campuses."

Fee said the university is considering other options such as participating in Metro teams or intramurals and providing other kinds of sports and physical recreation.

Over the next few months, the university will host town hall meetings on all four of its campuses to engage students in a broader dialogue about the future direction of health, wellness and recreation programming. The conversations will help the school direct where to spend the $750,000.

To read the press releases on the announcement or to keep up with postings about the town hall dates, check kpu.ca/eagles.

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