Women’s hockey could get more money, but won’t

St. Thomas University will not participate in a voluntary Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s hockey pilot project in which schools will offer more generous scholarships for players.

Schools can currently offer $5,000 in bursaries for tuition and fees for up to 70 per cent of their rosters, which are limited to around 20 players. Under the new pilot project, schools would also be able to cover athletes’ lodging costs. This is being done in an effort to keep more Canadian athletes playing at home.

“This pilot project is voluntary,” said St. Thomas athletics director Mike Eagles. “Each institution decides what’s best for them going forward. At STU, we’ve always had a strong commitment to women’s hockey, but we’re still operating under the previous criteria for incoming athletes.”

Eagles said STU supports the goals of the CIS pilot project, but he feels the school has seen success in terms of recruitment. He said STU will stick to the status quo unless there are unforeseen changes. He couldn’t speak for other schools, but he didn’t think any other schools in Atlantic Canada would be taking part in the pilot project.

“What you would end up with is a wider difference between what some players are getting versus others,” he said. “Right now, it’s more balanced.”

If STU were to participate in the pilot project, then the school or the team would be required to cover the additional costs associated with subsidizing athletes’ accommodations.

“Our position is that we don’t need to,” said Eagles. “We have a great product, and we recruit high-calibre student athletes with the practice we’re using, so we’re going to continue with that.”

Eagles said only Canadian-born athletes would be eligible for scholarships under the pilot project.

The ex-NHL player and former STU men’s hockey coach said the CIS’s ultimate goal is to have national team members go to CIS schools over NCAA schools, which is an idea he supports.

“It’s ideal for them to stay in Canada, but we’re trying to make our programs as good as we can,” said Eagles. “We would love to attract those athletes to our program, but we’re not necessarily going to use the pilot project to do so.”

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