Six U of O varsity teams play in the Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ). Illustration: Rame Abdulkader/Fulcrum
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Travel, scholarships and competitiveness impact choice of conference for varsity teams

A unique athletic feature at the University of Ottawa is that each varsity team chooses to play either in the Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) or the Ontario University Athletics (OUA).

For most Gee-Gees teams, a number of different factors go into choosing one conference over the other. 

The main reasons are the amount of travel each conference requires, the rules surrounding scholarships, recruiting, and the competitiveness level of the conference, according to coaches and athletes the Fulcrum spoke with.

Some teams don’t even get to choose. The men’s hockey team plays in the OUA because there is no RSEQ conference for their sport.

Travel seems to be a big reason teams join RSEQ. 

“We had an option to go in either, (but) in the RSEQ our longest trip is four hours (while) in the OUA every other team is four hours away at the least,” said James Flemming of the men’s rugby club.

“We were in the OUA for a long time but going to Windsor, Thunder Bay was a drag,” said Lionel Woods, head coach of the women’s volleyball team. “We’d leave Friday and come back on Sunday at 3 am. Most of our kids are in demanding programs like biosciences, and engineering, it was tough on them.” 

“Travel in RSEQ is much easier with three teams only two hours away in Montreal,” Woods added.

Scholarships and tuition are factors that favour a Gee-Gee team to play in the OUA 

“Tuition is a lot less in Quebec and the scholarships allowed in RSEQ cover it, but those scholarships won’t cut it here in Ontario,’’ said Jamie Barresi, head coach of the Gee-Gees football team

Most teams cited competitiveness as the biggest single factor in choosing a conference to play in. 

“In the OUA we made it to nationals pretty much every year, we dominated,” said Woods. “We’re now going in too our fourth year in RSEQ  and we’ve yet to make it out of the conference. I’d rather play strong teams all season then beat week teams make it to nationals and then get thumped there.”

“Were happy with the OUA, it’s not a two-horse race,” said Barresi. “It’s a lot less polarized, right now Western (University) is the top team but after that, it’s an open field and almost every game is competitive.”.

“Playing in the OUA also means we get to play the Panda Game against Carleton, which is undoubtedly the best university football event in the country,” Barresi added.

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