Simon Fraser gains NCAA approval

The National Collegiate Athletic Association in the U.S. has conditionally approved Canada's Simon Fraser University as its first non-American school.

SFU is entering its third year as the only non-American participant in the NCAA, but its teams were previously unable to compete in post-season play because the organization requires its members to be accredited through a U.S. accreditation agency.

However, the NCAA's membership committee 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.

"Being able to compete for national championships in the NCAA will instill a sense of pride and engagement in the entire SFU community," SFU president Andrew Petter said in a statement.

"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."

The last step in the process comes Aug. 1, when there will be a final vote by the executive council to decide if the university, located in Burnaby, B.C., outside of Vancouver, will become a full member, effective Sept. 1.

In the meantime, the university is pursuing accreditation with the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities.

SFU Athletics was approved as the first non-American school in the NCAA in July 2009. After a final season in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, the Clan competed in 2010-11 as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

"In talking with our student-athletes, it's very apparent that being the only non-American school in the NCAA is a huge motivator," senior director of athletics and recreation Milton Richards said. "All of our athletes have a tremendous amount of pride being the first to compete for a Canadian school in the NCAA."

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