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NCAA Opens Membership to Mexican Institutions

7 Feb, 2018

By: Michael Popke

In the midst of a national immigration debate, members of NCAA Division II institutions recently voted to allow colleges in Mexico to apply to the division.

“Higher education now more than ever before must lead the way in helping build inclusive communities and foster diverse learning communities and learning opportunities,” Gayle E. Hutchinson, president of California State University at Chico, said during a meeting of Division II delegates at the NCAA’s annual convention in mid-January, as quoted by  InsideHigherEd.com. “Many of our schools already have academic programs that cross cultural and country boundaries. Adopting this legislation adds similar opportunity for our intercollegiate athletics programs.”

All interested Mexican institutions would be required to complete a three-year provisional period before becoming a full member, and Division I and Division III schools will not be affected.

The first college to take advantage of this opportunity could beCentro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior (CETYS) University, a small private institution with locations in Tijuana and Mexicali, not far from the United States border.

CETYS president Fernando León-García told InsideHigherEd.com that “the university intends to wait a year to make sure it meets the requirements to join the NCAA. The institution must ensure that its sports program has an equitable gender balance. This is particularly true because the university fields a football team, a sport that has more male athletes than most, and could require CETYS to field six women's teams and four men's teams as a result.”

Currently, CETYS offers men’s and women’s basketball, women’s and men’s volleyball, baseball, softball, men’s soccer, cheerleading and football, with men’s track and field coming soon.

The New YorkTimes reported last May that CETYS teams frequently take “international excursions”to the United States “as part of an ambitious bid to become the first Mexican member of the NCAA.”

Time will tell. But despite Hutchinson’s claim, the NCAA’s move could agitate a segment of the population already cynical about the association’s operations.

“Historically, the NCAA has received large tax breaks at the expense of federal and state taxpayers,” writes John Patrick on WashingtonExaminer.com. “For example, college football bowl games often receive millions of dollars in state and local tax aid as an incentive to bring the events to a certain city. And from 2007 to 2009, the Sugar Bowl received over $5.4 million dollars from the federal government, all at the expense of the American taxpayer. All of this occurs despite the fact that these bowl games often produce tens of millions of dollars in profits for the NCAA universities and their conferences. While NCAA tax breaks and subsidies remain a current topic of hot debate, adding Mexican universities with the potential to benefit from these same tax subsidies will surely be met with resistance from many American taxpayers.”

The NCAA’s Division II began accepting Canadian schools in 2008, but only one— Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia — has taken advantage of that opportunity, ESPN.com reports. “We're very proud to be the first, but being the only is lonely,” Simon Fraser president Andrew Petter told voters during the NCAA’s annual convention, referring to the university’s status as the NCAA’s only international member.

As the Associated Press reports:“Despite facing passport issues and other challenges, Petter said Simon Fraser has found creative ways to overcome those obstacles and believes schools in Mexico would find similar solutions.”

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