UPEI acting on athletics review

Published on July 31, 2014

UPEI Panthers


UPEI has developed a timeline to address recommendations from an independent review of its athletics and recreation department.

“I have always said my priority would be to spend time with faculty, staff, students, and members of the P.E.I. community to realize key issues of importance from their perspectives,” UPEI president and vice-chancellor Alaa Abd-El-Aziz said in a news release Thursday. “And very clearly, a successful athletics program at UPEI matters greatly to the community we serve.”

The release also said athletics director Bill Schurman recently informed the university he would not be available to continue in his position.

“Billy was asked to come into a department under tough financial circumstances and effect change. He balanced the budget for the department and his contributions will live on and serve the department well into the future. We wish him well,” said vice-president, administration and finance Jackie Podger.

Podger and Stephanie Knickle, the manager of campus and community recreation, will co-lead the transition team while a search for a new director of takes place. 

The review was penned by Dave (Hermie) MacNeill, a former Panthers women’s basketball coach. He is also a former executive director of Sport P.E.I. and was the chief executive officer of operations for the 2009 Canada Games.

The review was announced in the wake of women's basketball coach Greg Gould's resignation. The university started a process of looking for a new coach, but stopped it after the review of the department began. There is no mention in today's release about the women's basketball coach.


The following is a summary of recommendations:

1. Establish an Athletics Advisory Board

UPEI establish an Athletic Advisory Board consisting of people from the community who are recognized as leaders with knowledge of the university and community sport delivery system.  The purpose of the Board would be to act as a liaison between UPEI and the greater Island sport community which could act as a resource for planning or implementing services or programs, serve as a mechanism to exchange ideas and also as a communication vehicle between athletics and the greater community.

Implementation Date: September 15, 2014

2. Establish a Fundraising Sub-Committee of the Board

This committee would be populated by 2-3 individuals from the community with marketing and fundraising experience who would work with the UPEI Department of Development and Alumni Engagement to spearhead the raising of dollars for Athletics. 

Implementation Date: October 31, 2014

3. Appoint a dedicated Development Officer

The development officer would work with the Department of Development and Alumni Engagement to raise funds for athletics, incorporating a planned, professional approach that would ensure growth and sustainability for the Athletics department.

Implementation Date:  Will be determined by sub-committee

4. Secure long-term stable leadership and staffing within the Department

A review of the organizational structure to determine job functions and skill sets is required to ensure consistency and efficiency within the department.  Appropriate staffing levels need to be determined and recruitment of individuals possessing the required skills and abilities will continue to enable athletics to move forward.

Implementation Date: Will be determined by transition team and advisory board

5. Develop an Athletic Financial Aid stability model

UPEI fund as part of the operational budget “AFA Scholarship Amounts” using the following formula:  market driven sports (basketball and hockey) be funded at 60% of the CIS cap; high performance sport (soccer) be funded at 35% of the CIS cap. These two formulas would be in place for the next three years.  Currently the CIS limit is close to $500k, while this amount may be a noble goal for student-athlete support, it is not realistic given the financial realities of UPEI. The formula creates a framework around the amount that UPEI could contribute for three years.  The funding of the Athletic Financial Aid stability model will be dependent upon the success of the fundraising sub-committee outlined in Recommendation #2 and must be considered in the context of all of the University’s high priority needs as a part of the University budget process that begins in October.  

Implementation Date:  Process starts in October 2014

6. Implement transparent, accountable financial policies 

The University must put an accounting specialist in the department who can interpret and align the numbers with the UPEI accounting office.  This person must be able to move the expenditure and revenue items from the department quickly to accounting to ensure that numbers are relevant.  They must also be able to easily translate the revenue and expenditure information in a timely manner to coaches and booster groups.  

Implementation Date: September 2014

7. Review and adjust coaching salaries

It is time to review the present level of coaching salaries and develop a plan to move through a fair and reasonable salary scale over a period of time.  The plan should not create issues with the departmental operating budget.

Implementation Date: UPEI Human Resources will review salaries in the region and report to the transition team by September 30, 2014.