June 1, 2023
As the CCAA Hall of Fame concludes its first decade, clouds continue to congregate over the shrine due to the composition and application of the CCAA Operating Code.
Eligibility criteria indicate that coaches and athletes "must have a CCAA institution in good standing support their nomination". Those who meet eligibility criteria based on their accomplishments at former CCAA institutions are placed at a distinct disadvantage through none of their actions. Of the non-builders enshrined, only one represented an institution that was not a member of the CCAA at the time of induction. The disadvantaged include three former hockey head coaches who took teams to nationals on multiple occasions and countless former hockey players who received multiple CCAA individual awards and/or won multiple CCAA national championships.
Athletes and coaches from 28 campuses have received the call to the Hall. Ironically, enshrinement of coaches and athletes from the 28 former CCAA institutions that produced podium finishes at CCAA national championships is essentially out of reach. Former CCAA institutions which did not medal, but produced CCAA individual award winners, are in the same boat.
Restricting nominations in coach and athlete categories to current CCAA institutions in good standing is troubling. Those with impressive numbers who represented institutions that are no longer members of the CCAA such as the hockey head coach with the highest winning percentage in three or more appearances at nationals and the hockey player with the most individual awards of any forward are, for all intents and purposes, excluded prior to the evaluation of nominees. Some of the former CCAA institutions have continued their varsity athletic programs elsewhere while others have terminated their varsity athletic programs or cease to exist. As a result, nominations from the public encompassing all categories and all institutions that have been members of the CCAA at one time or another are essential.
The selection process states "a minimum of one (1) and no more than ten (10) individuals/teams shall be honoured each year", yet there is no team category to immortalize accomplishments including those beyond the CCAA such as the first hockey team from Atlantic Canada to win a CCAA/U Sports national championship, the hockey team from Central Canada that posted the widest margin of victory in the regular season and post season of any men's varsity team to win all their regular season post season games en route to a CCAA/NCAA/U Sports title or the hockey team from Western Canada that defeated eventual U Sports champions in consecutive campaigns en route to becoming back-to-back CCAA national champions.
Instead of addressing barriers faced by athletes, coaches and teams, the CCAA's power brokers have updated eligibility criteria to make it easier for builders to enter the shrine with clauses like "must have a CCAA institution in good standing support their nomination or the CCAA awards committee". The builder category also has a shorter waiting period than other categories.
In the terms of reference for the awards committee, one of the responsibilities is "to ensure all CCAA policies related to awards as identified in the CCAA Operating Code (Article 11) are adhered to". The eligibity criteria states that builders "must have been as a member of the CCAA executive committee, a national convenor, a CCAA committee chair or member, a CCAA host chair, a CCAA board director, and/or CCAA staff for a minimum of 5 years", yet the CCAA's inaugural first vice president who was enshrined in 2014 only served one term on the executive and did not meet the five year minimum. The eligibility criteria states that builders "become eligible for nomination beginning five (5) years after their last full-time employment with a CCAA institution, a CCAA member conference, or the CCAA", yet the CCAA's compliance officer who retired from the position of athletic director at a CCAA institution in March of 2019 was inducted in 2022. The selection process indicates that "each year, the hall of fame committee shall select the number of inductees to be honoured; a minimum of one (1) and no more than ten (10) …", yet 11 were selected in 2023 including the CCAA's vice president of marketing who is an athletic director at a CCAA institution where he formerly coached.
The 2023 selection of the CCAA's vice president of marketing sets off many alarm bells. Athletic directors have considerable input into nominations submitted by an institution as eligibility criteria for all categories includes "must have a CCAA institution in good standing support their nomination ". Among the responsibilities of the vice president of marketing is to "serve as a member on all CCAA awards committees and be responsible for matters pertaining to awards".
Since the unveiling of the CCAA Hall of Fame's inaugural class in 2014, no category has had more inductees than the builder category even though there have been more athletes than coaches and more coaches than builders over the CCAA's existence. As of now, 26 inductees (or 40 percent) have served the national governing body as an executive member, a convenor and/or a conference representative.
A massive overall to the operating code that addresses inequities would assist in quelling the perception that the CCAA Hall of Fame was created in large part to honour insiders.