National Academic Award

March 27th, 2011

VIU takes awards for athletic excellence
Josh Aldrich
Daily News


The accolades for Vancouver Island University did not end with their national championship in men's basketball last weekend.

On Wednesday night they were handed three more awards: Brandon Jones was named the Pacific Western Athletic Association male athlete of the year across all sports, they won their seventh straight PacWest aggregate championship, and they were named the top academic athletic program in the country for the second time in their history.

It is the second straight season the VIU Mariners have been awarded the PacWest's top male athlete award. Last year it was Jared Stephens from the men's soccer program. Jones is coming off an MVP performance at the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association men's basketball championship and was also named an all-Canadian and a PacWest first team all-star.

But his head coach, Matt Kuzminski, says the award also shows how he has grown up as an individual in the program the last two years.

"To see him get rewarded like this is a testament to him and a testament to our team's success too," said Kuzminski.

There is no guarantee the fourth-year guard will be back for his fifth and final year of eligibility after transferring in to the program from a junior college in the U.S. last year. If it is his last year, he made a big statement, averaging 19.43 points a game, 7.19 rebounds and 4.33 assists. But it was in the playoffs where he was at his best, earning MVP honours at both the PacWest and CCAA championships.

Being named the top academic athletic program in the country is one athletic director Bruce Hunter takes a lot of pride in. He says it shows their commitment to producing not just great athletes, but great students as well.

Most schools have to battle attrition in their major programs between semester breaks due to athletes not having the grades to continue on, leaving big holes on those teams at the mid-way point. While not every VIU athlete is a scholar, it is rare when they lose anyone for academic reasons.

"Most of these kids, they might have great athletic careers at VIU or some other school in the CCAA, but when they're done that athletic career, they better have some education to fall back on because most of them are not going to go on to a professional level and make a living at their sport. They're here for an education," said Hunter. "The more of those kids we can attract . . . the better it is for our program, the reputation of our school and for them."

This commitment by the coaches and the athletes has helped lead to a long string aggregate titles. The PacWest says they have won five straight, but they tied with Douglas College six years ago. They have had at least a share in the last seven years. During their run of dominance they have watched some of their major competition move on to Canadian Interuniversity Sport - the top level of university competition in Canada. Hunter has made no secret of the school's desire to join them, and that he believes they would be competitive in most of their sports, where most schools specialize with one or two strong teams. The big hurdle, as always is finances and lack of a facility. Until then, they are happy being the PacWest's flagship athletic department.

"We've been able to hire and retain a first class coaching staff that players want to come and play for," said Hunter. "It also doesn't hurt when you have a winning reputation. Top players want to play for top coaches and they want to play for teams where they know they're going to have a chance to get to provincial and national championships."




SIRC (Sport Information Resource Centre) and the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) are proud to announce the 2010/11 SIRC-CCAA Academic All Canadian Award recipients.  This year, 9 VIU student-athletes have achieved combined excellence in collegiate athletics and academics.

Read more in the NDN


The SIRC-CCAA Academic All Canadian Award is the CCAA’s most prestigious student-athlete award, epitomizing the CCAA’s mandate of recognizing excellence in academics and athletics.  To achieve this award, a student-athlete must be named to his/her respective PCAA All-Star teams (1st and 2nd) in a CCAA Sport, and must achieve honours standing at their Institution.

“To achieve excellence in both sport and academics requires tremendous skill, dedication and perseverance,” said Debra Gassewitz, President and CEO of SIRC.  “SIRC is honoured to recognize these outstanding collegiate student-athletes who are also passionate about excelling in their education.”
“The CCAA is committed to academic success and athletic achievement,” stated Sandra Murray-MacDonell, CCAA Executive Director. “We are very proud to recognize and celebrate those student-athletes who’ve attained the highest possible CCAA honour in their pursuit of academic and athletic excellence.”

The SIRC-CCAA Academic All Canadian Recognition Award is also presented each year to the institution with the most student-athlete award recipients.   This year, SIRC and the CCAA are pleased to present the award to Vancouver Island University, with nine (9) recipients attaining academic and athletic excellence

Congratulations ...

Andrew Kaban, Basketball
Josh Logan, Golf
Andrea Strebel, Soccer
Heather Iverson, Soccer
Jordan Tufnail, Soccer
Steph Dean, Soccer
Stephen Ewashko, Soccer
Cheyla Reader, Volleyball
Jacqueline Doleman, Volleyball