St. Thomas University athletes play at two different levels, the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association and the Atlantic University Sport league, but there are subtle differences between the two.
The leagues include universities across the East Coast, but they’re designed for different skill levels.
The AUS league which plays under the USPORTS national conference includes the four Atlantic provinces. It’s the top league with the ACAA league behind it. Men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, swimming, soccer, track and field, cross country, curling and hockey, as well as women’s rugby and men’s football are all sports in the league.
“It is basically just that institutions have a choice,” said Mike Eagles, STU’s athletics director.
“Because it’s an application process for which conferences you want to participate in.”
The STU teams that compete in the AUS league include women’s hockey, cross country and track and field.
At STU, each sport is considered three different teams, however the AUS league considers men’s and women’s track and field as two separate teams, along with men’s and women’s cross country.
“At the conference level they would look at that as five teams,” Eagles said.
The ACAA league is under the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association, which is also a national Canadian conference.
The CCAA league includes men’s and women’s basketball, badminton, soccer, volleyball, cross country and women’s rugby.
The STU men’s and women’s basketball teams, volleyball teams, soccer teams and women’s rugby team play in the league.
“The [STU] men’s rugby team used to play in the ACAA and then there [weren’t] enough teams to sustain the league and a couple schools dropped out and decided to play in the Maritime University [Rugby] League,” said Eagles.
“The league within the ACAA folded, and the Maritime U League is just a mixture of schools that are in the ACAA and the AUS, but it’s an independent league.”
Men’s rugby is the only sport to play in the Maritime University Rugby League.
Despite various sports playing under different leagues, STU still holds the same academic requirements for them all.
Students who maintain a GPA of 2.0 can participate in sports at STU, but many athletes strive to have a higher academic standing.
Dexter Lathangue, a first-year student from Ontario, came to STU for the men’s rugby team and the Aquinas program.
“I didn’t have too much trouble with [the GPA],” Lathangue said.
“My marks never suffered, so I still did well.”
STU doesn’t give out athletic scholarships.
The university offers help to athletes who need to maintain their academic standings, but coaches encourage their players to do well and aim for higher marks.