The NCAA is full of disparate universities, from enormous research powerhouse schools to tiny, private, liberal arts colleges. But with the exception of one school — Simon Fraser University in British Columbia — they’re all in the United States.
But that might change, as a school in Mexico is looking to join the NCAA and compete at the Division II level.
The New York Times reports that Cetys University, a private school of a around 3,000 students in Mexicali, has petitioned to join the NCAA. Last week, the NCAA made a pilot program to allow divisions to invite members in Canada and Mexico permanent, making it easier for Cetys to apply.
Cetys would look to join the CCAA, a Division II league full of schools in California, like Chico State, UC San Diego, and San Fransisco State. Leslie Wong, the president of SFSU, is reportedly an “enthusiastic backer” of Cetys proposal.
Here’s why this could be awesome
College football is primarily an American game, sure, but it isn’t only played in America. Lots of other colleges in Canada, Mexico, Japan, and others participate. Mexico’s biggest powerhouse program, Monterrey Tech, even tried to join the NCAA in 2013, before narrowly being turned down.
Allowing Cetys to make the jump would give increased opportunities for Mexican student-athletes to face higher competition in sports like football, basketball, and volleyball, and could help grow the infrastructure in the country.
Given that there is a dearth of Division II programs in the American West, adding a program in Mexico, one that’s only about an hour’s drive from San Diego, could help save on travel costs and make scheduling easier in some sports. The CCAA does not sponsor football, so Cetys may end up playing in the Great Northwest Conference, with powerhouse Humbolt State and Simon Fraser. An American college football game between a Mexican university and a Canadian university would be pretty fun. It may be winnable for Cetys too, since Simon Fraser finished 0-10 last year.
Plus, it would give students at both schools increased opportunities for cultural exchanges and new experiences, which is part of the entire dang point of college sports.
Finally, Cety’s mascot? The Zorros. That’s awesome.
But it could also be complicated
Regularly playing a team in a different country creates lots of logistical challenges. Every player and coach who travels to Cetys would need a passport or visas, and for schools that have student-athletes on visas that restrict travel outside of the country, it could create headaches for undermanned athletic departments.
There’s also athletic considerations. Cetys plays exhibition games against schools in America, but they’ll have to adjust to different rules, equipment (their baseball team uses wooden bats, instead of the NCAA’s aluminum, for example), styles of play, and more.
The elephant in the room, of course, is that adding Cetys would require regular travel across the increasingly politicized United States-Mexico border, a crossing that at absolute minimum, increases travel times and logistical headaches.
But here’s hoping they can work it out
According to the Times, a “division-wide vote could come as soon as January”, and Cetys could begin a three-year provisional membership next year, in 2018.
We’re a long way from a Canadian or Mexican university joining Division I, but opening the proverbial borders of the NCAA seems like a great way to enrich the student-athlete experience, bring more opportunities to Mexican athletes, and grow college sports, especially college football. That’s good for everybody.
Also, we want to root for a team called the Zorros.