This Mexicali University Wants to Become the First Mexican Member of the NCAA

Lead Photo: Photo by Gabriel Flores Romero is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Photo by Gabriel Flores Romero is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
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The NCAA is the most powerful college sports institution in the world, but it’s an exclusive association almost entirely based in the United States. One Mexicali university is trying to change that. Mexicali’s Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior (CETYS) is petioinining to join the association in order to compete at the Division II level.

According to a New York Times report, CETYS’s bid comes as a result of a ruling in late April by the NCAA, stating that each division in its ranks is allowed to invite either Canadian or Mexican institutions into the fray. The original pilot version of this program allowed Simon Fraser University, in British Columbia, to become the first non-United States member of the NCAA in 2012. Since then, there has not been another international university admitted into the association, something that CETYS aims to change.

If accepted, CETYS would join the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), which currently includes twelve schools in the California State University system; among them is San Francisco State University, whose president, Leslie Wong, is a supporter for the CETYS bid.

This is not the first bid by a Mexican university to join the NCAA; Monterrey Tech had their own bid rejected in 2013. However, it is believed that CETYS’s bid is better structured and would make financial sense for the NCAA, as the addition of another football program on the West Coast could expand the region’s offering in the US’s most popular sport. It would also, of course, benefit CETYS, as its athletes would get regular competition not just against higher-level football opponents, but in other sports such as basketball, volleyball, and soccer.

Joining the NCAA would help bring additional revenue and recognition to one of the premier universities in Mexico, as CETYS is one of the few that are accredited by an international organization (in their case, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which also accredited Stanford and UCLA).

A vote is expected to decide CETYS’s fate looms in January, and the university could become a provisional member in 2018. Of course, given President Trump’s increasing hostility towards Mexico and the border, it’s very possible that the NCAA will reject the bid on logistical grounds; not only would visas complicate matters, but tightening border security could leave some athletes behind as they aim to compete in the US.