Campaign to build athletic scholarships

Ten-year initiative aims to encourage amateur sport, says campaign chair

by Bruce Mason staff writer

A major community campaign to recruit top student athletes to the university will be officially launched March 13 at 7:30 a.m. at the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Vancouver lawyer, UBC alumnus and Thunderbird Council chair Martin Zlotnik, who brought the Air Canada Championship PGA Tour to Vancouver, will head the campaign.

The goal of the 10-year, $6.3 million initiative is to dramatically increase scholarship funding for student athletes.

"It's all about generating community spirit and greater support for varsity athletics," says Zlotnik. "It's about getting our alumni and their families, friends and neighbours to participate in amateur sport.

"We know we can achieve this by recruiting outstanding athletes, keeping them here, and introducing a higher level of competition to varsity sport in B.C.," he adds.

UBC President Martha Piper is keynote speaker at the $200-per-plate kick-off breakfast at the convention centre.

Net proceeds of the first annual breakfast, which is being generously supported by TELUS, will be matched by the university and used to endow an athletic scholarship fund.

The university has also committed to match proceeds from the event in 2001 and 2002.

"As highlighted in Trek 2000, we are committed to the principle of attracting academically qualified students, regardless of financial ability," says UBC Athletics and Recreation director Bob Philip. "We believe this should include academically qualified students who also excel in sport."

"For the most part, the varsity program has been successful in doing that," he adds. "But this new initiative represents an opportunity for our alumni, and the university and external community to be directly involved in taking our past successes to a higher level."

The 11 Western Canadian member institutions of the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (CIAU) have lobbied unsuccessfully to have the CIAU alter its restrictive policy on athletic scholarships.

"We can't give athletic awards to students entering UBC unless they have an 80 per cent average," explains Kim Gordon, co-ordinator of Interuniversity Athletics. "As well, athletic awards are limited to $3,000."

While UBC remains committed to expanding scholarship opportunities within the CIAU, it is also exploring other competitive options, including the US-based National Collegiate Athletic Association.

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