OUA CEO Gord Grace says conference declined 2015 interlock, is open to discussion down the road

OUA CEO Gord Grace (L) said the conference won't participate in interlock in 2015.
OUA CEO Gord Grace (L) said the conference won't participate in interlock in 2015.

The idea of a national CIS footballinterlock for this coming season is dead, according to Ontario University Athletics CEO Gord Grace. OUA's move Friday to preview their upcoming schedule release suggested they were going ahead without interlock, and Grace confirmed that to Yahoo Canada Friday afternoon. He said the conference is willing to discuss the idea further for future years, but unlike Canada West, they're not ready to endorse it yet. Moreover, they definitely won't take part in 2015.

"We're always open to new ideas, but we as a league do not have any interest in 2015," Grace said.

Grace said the basic idea of adding interconference games and creating more nationally-televised games has its merits.

"Growing the game, that's something we're always interested in," he said.

However, he said OUA schools have some concerns. Travel costs are one; while Canada West teams already fly to many games in their conference (meaning that an interconference game wouldn't necessarily be more expensive than a regular one), OUA schools bus to all football games. Thus, replacing a conference game with a non-conference game could be substantially more expensive for them. There are also questions about how the non-conference games in this plan would impact the conference standings and the existing playoffs. Grace said OUA is willing to talk about the idea more going forward, but they don't want to move ahead with it now.

"We're open to the concept, we're open to discussion, but we're not at that point," he said. "We'd have to analyze a business plan to move forward."

So, there' seems to be a substantial divide in how the conferences are reacting to this plan at the moment. Canada West has announced support for it, but OUA's not committing to anything yet, and the Quebec schools don't sound keen on doing this quickly either. Various coaches, such as Western's Greg Marshall, and athletic directors, such as Laurier's Peter Baxter, have talked about the merits of the idea, though. We'll see where it goes from here: will the proponents be able to get the Ontario and Quebec conferences on side in time for 2016, or will the conference concerns be too much to overcome? Either way, all that appears clear for now is that this bold new interlock idea won't be implemented in 2015.