After several years of trying to find a league to play in, the Burman University Bobcats have finally found a home in the Prairie Athletic Conference (PAC).
On Monday, Sept. 17, it was announced the Saskatchewan-based collegiate sports league, PAC, had approved Burman’s application for full membership, and as a result, both the basketball and volleyball teams will officially join the league this year.
“We are excited that our basketball and volleyball teams will now be able to play in a competitive league,” said Burman Athletics Director Ron Schafer. “Our campus family looks forward to watching them compete again.”
Finding a league to call home has been a challenge for Burman University for several years. Originally, they were part of the Alberta Colleges Athletic League (ACAL), where they had perennial success. The Bobcats men’s basketball team won the championship five out of the last six years, while both the men’s and women’s volleyball teams came close, earning silver and bronze respectively in 2012 and 2013.
However, as their opponents left ACAL for what is now Alberta’s pre-eminent collegiate sports league, the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC), the league collapsed in 2015, and Burman was forced to investigate joining the ACAC as well.
They applied to join the ACAC twice – first in 2015-16, and then again in 2016-17. Both times their bids were rejected primarily due to scheduling limitations caused by Burman University’s observation of the Sabbath as a Seventh-Day Adventist school.
“We’re disappointed, for sure. We were rejected last year and in addition to the big issue – which is we won’t play between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday – they gave us a number of things to address that would strengthen our application,” Schafer told the Globe after their second rejection.
He said they addressed every other issue in the application in their second bid, and believed they’d receive a probationary period as part of the league. They had made numerous concessions – from agreeing to walk away from the ACAC if other schools felt scheduling didn’t work, to not expecting to play in playoffs, regardless of standings.
Conceding on their observation of the Sabbath – sundown Friday to sundown Saturday – he said, was not something they were willing to do.
While there were rumours of appealing the decision regarding exceptions for religious reasons in the community, the ACAC’s CEO Mark Kosak said at the time religion wasn’t a factor in their decision.
As the majority of ACAC games are played Friday and Saturday nights, it was difficult to come up with a schedule without some flexibility from Burman on playing during that time frame.
As a result, Burman spent several years filling their schedule with exhibition games – including with PAC’s Prairie Pilots during their ACAC evaluation day.
Years full of exhibition games, however, are now in their past.
Schedules for Burman University games will be released as soon as possible.
For more information on Burman University athletics, visit https://www.burmanu.ca/athletics or @burmanuathletics on Facebook.