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British universities & Colleges Sport

Sport Criteria and the removal of sports from the BUCS Programme – Statement 08/07/2013

BUCS has been working with members to agree a criteria that is set against sport and events that are included in the BUCS sporting programme.  Currently BUCS offers sporting competition across 51 sports and around 160 events within those 51 sports.

BUCS logoBUCS has been working with members to agree a criteria that is set against sport and events that are included in the BUCS sporting programme.  Currently BUCS offers sporting competition across 51 sports and around 160 events within those 51 sports.  These events (and in some cases sport on a whole) have operated in the same way for many years, with no research taken on demand for the competition, the cost to run the sport for members and the importance it holds for the university sport sector.  With many sports requesting to enter the BUCS programme, and resources already at capacity, it was essential that BUCS set criteria against all sports in the programme or request additional income through affiliation from members.

In 2012 the principles of a criteria for BUCS sports (which can be found here) were agreed by members, and subsequently a new sport was admitted to the programme (American Football). This was done on the understanding that members would proceed with a method, by using the criteria adopted, for the removal of small and less participated sports.

The BUCS Competitions Group has debated the fair criteria which should be used to assess the current sports in the programme and a relatively complex set of criteria have been agreed, which calculate a percentage score, which then ranks sports programmes in order, with high scores being the most popular.  For more information about the scoring mechanisms please click here.

BUCS Advisory Group in May 2013 indicated their support for the application of a scoreline, below which sports should be considered “at risk”, and having been advised that the cost to members to retain all sports would be an additional 4% onto affiliation fees, strongly advised BUCS that this should not be offered to members as an option in the current financial climate, but that the scoreline should be adopted.

The BUCS Senior Managers networking group was asked then to “sanity check” the direction of travel, and the following outlines the discussions and outcomes of that debate, which took place at the BUCS Cricket Finals event on 24th June. The BUCS Chairman was present and summarised the situation as below.

The Chairman listened to all the points made, which included:

  • Some Directors felt that they had not been consulted on the process
  • Some said they didn’t understand the criteria;
  • Some said they risked losing sports which were important to them;
  • Others added that if the uplift in affiliation were offered they would take it rather than lose sports;
  • Others that they had not been shown the uplift paper therefore it was not on their agenda; some suggested this should be taken to AGM to vote on (this is not possible this year, since the date for submissions has passed);
  • It was suggested that we should stop doing things in order to support our “core activity”(specifically, stop spending money on the scoping of the ratings project and/or the employability research);
  • Some said we should not lose any sports at all; some suggested that the most important thing was to help us create the capacity to deliver everything they wanted us to;
  • Others that we should franchise out more sports;
  • Others that we needed help in arriving at creative ways to do more with the resource we have.


The Chairmans’ view is that BUCS must be proactive and build in churn/turnover, so that we do not suffer from stagnation in our offer and can change the programme according to student demand and changes in our environment. Taking on new and exciting sports as well as removing declining and less popular ones must, in his and the Boards view, be supported by membership in order to support our central vision of enhancing the student experience through sport. He accepted that some people had views which they felt had not been heard, but with the 12 months period that is built in to the process, for those below the line to put their house in order, make changes to the programme, build sports, for BUCS to engage with NGB’s and SAG’s, that we would proceed on the basis that we will go to membership at the end of 2013/14 with two proposals – one which identifies the uplift in affiliation that is needed to support the programme as members say they want it, and the other to proceed with removing some sports from the programme at current levels of affiliation.
 
This does not stop the process. It means we still have to draw what we think is a reasonable line (the proposed scoreline of 5% itself was not discussed in any depth), and begin to work with those sports which are in danger – so the SAG’s, who were in this discussion, will be looking to make suggestions to build their sports to a sustainable level, and it may necessitate more NGB engagement, and possibly investment, especially for those sports which may be important in the elite player pathways.

There is, at present, no suggestion that BUCS will be opening up again to new sports. The Advisory Group will meet at BUCS Conference (this week) and will be asked to recommend this proposal (the 5% scoreline).  If they are unable to do so the Chairman has indicated that the board will support the 5% scoreline and it will therefore be imposed.

A full history of the Sport Criteria Discussions can be found here.

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