Cougars and Dinos can now claw and roar at each other for the top spot in the city this upcoming year as the University of Calgary welcome their newest rivals. The Mount Royal University Cougars will provide stiff intra-city competition, become the 15th member of Canada West Universities Athletic Association after gaining university status last year. As the newest member of the most decorated conference in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport, the Cougars have been granted probationary membership starting in September.
Admission to the league is based on a diverse assortment of qualifications from facilities, day-to-day operations, scholarships and funding. MRU has been focused on bringing more coaches onto campus full time.
The decision was finalized May 4 during Canada West's annual meeting in Saskatoon, with more than the required 75 per cent membership approval needed for acceptance into the league.
Canada West president Sandy Slavin said that since MRU is now a member of CWUAA they can make an application to become a part of CIS. CIS consists of 51 universities across Canada, over 10,000 athletes and 21 championships in 12 different sports.
"At the end of three years, there is a vote where they again need to meet 75 per cent approval where they can become full members without probationary."
She said it is a huge step for MRU to move on from the Canada College league.
"Now that they have a university title, they wanted to compete in an athletic league of the same level," she said. "One major advantage is that they can compete for a national championship."
Although MRU is still waiting for approval from CIS, Mount Royal media relations coordinator Kyle Henry said he doesn't know of an instance when a school has been accepted on conference level and not by CIS.
"It's more just a formality," said Henry. "Our application will be reviewed at the CIS conference in June. We are obviously very excited and don't see any issues."
The Cougars men's and women's basketball, volleyball, hockey and soccer teams will join the biggest amateur sports league in Canada next season.
"Becoming a member of the CWUAA is a separate process from gaining university status," said Henry. "There was been a lot of behind the scenes work for everyone on campus and it is the end of all our hard work. This has been on the radar for our athletics department for many years now. It's a landmark day for our student athletes-- somewhere they can really showcase their skills."
Although it will take time to build up their level of competition, Henry said the athletes are really excited for a great rivalry with the U of C.
The three-year probationary period allows the Cougars an opportunity to hone their skills. The Dinos have faced off against the Cougars in exhibition games, but Mike Boyles, U of C athletics associate director, said two teams in the same league, both competing in Calgary, is a big step to get a wider range of supporters.
"Obviously with the Dinos as a strong competition, it opens up a natural rivalry," said Boyles. "Having two universities in the same league can look at greater recognition within the city. Mount Royal has pretty good support right now from the college league, but by joining Canada West this will naturally increase."
The University of British Columbia Okanagan was also granted probationary membership to CWUAA for their basketball and volleyball teams starting this fall. A decision to grant the University of Northern British Columbia membership was deferred until June after further information was requested.