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29 April 2017 | in FISU

FISU Learns From University Sport In The USA


On 23-27 April 2017 FISU President Oleg Matytsin and Secretary General Eric Saintrond visited the city of Indianapolis, in United States, at the invitation of US-IUSF, FISU’s national member federation.

 The visit, whose principle aim was to join US-IUSF for its annual springtime board meeting, also provided a good opportunity to learn more about university sport in the United States, a country with one of the most advanced collegiate sports systems in the world.

Meeting with US Gymnastics: Ron Gallimore, Eric Saintrond, Oleg Matytsin, Luan Peszek, Nels Hawkinson


The programme for FISU executives started on 24 April with visiting USA Gymnastics and meeting with Chief Operating Officer Ron Galimore and Luan Peszek, Vice President of Women’s Gymnastics. Having a highly competitive Olympic team, USA Gymnastics is now developing more interest in the World University Games. Mr Galimore, (a Hall of Fame gymnast and a 1977 Sofia Summer Universiade contender) indicated that, for the upcoming Summer Universiade Taipei, the USA will be represented by a full men's team as well as women's team in Rythmic Gymnastics, for the first time in many years

FISU delegation together with the US Diving team


The Games in Taipei and the composition of the US team were also the main topic for discussion with USA Diving CEO Linda Paul. It is very important for US national sports governing bodies to have FISU events in their calendars, in order to avoid overlaps between national competitions on one hand an Universiades and World University Championships on the other. Both US Gymnastics and US Diving expressed support for FISU sports events and it was agreed that they will work with US-IUSF to share information on a regular basis.


While US national governing bodies play an important role in managing the participation of American student athletes in FISU events, it is higher education institutions that are at the centre of an American collegiate sports universe where approximately 500 000 students participate in intra-university competitions and millions practice recreational sports.


Mr Matytsin and Mr Saintrond were provided a first-hand experience of how this system works on the ground by Butler University Athletics Director Barry Collier. Butler, with some 4500 students' is a private institution with a history going back more than 160 years Butler is famous for its basketball team, and Mr Collier spoke about how sports help the university to get more publicity and attract students.

Eric Saintrond, Larry Rink, Scott Dolson (Deputy Director of Athletics of IU) and Oleg Matytsin at Indiana Hoosiers Football home arena


In contrast to Butler, Indiana University (IU) is a big public institution with several campuses and more than 48 000 students at its main campus in Bloomington. Dr Lawrence Rink, FISU Honorary member and many years' Chair of Medical Committee helped to organise a visit to its main campus in Bloomington, Indiana that included meeting with Scott Dolson, Deputy Director of Athletics and Jeremy Gray, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications and Fan Experience.


 Group picture with the Indiana University executives


Indiana University is part of Big Ten Conference of Division I, the most developed stage of American collegiate sports. While taking FISU delegation to a tour on IU magnificent sports facilities, Mr Dolson spoke about economic aspects of competing at the level, which features prime-time TV coverage of intra-university games in American Football, Baseball and Basketball.


 the FISU delegation with the IU Swimming team. (Second from the left is Ray Loose, Head Coach)


Later on, Mr Matytsin and Mr Saintrond met with Archie Miller, Head Coach of the IU Men’s Basketball team and Ray Loose, Head Coach of the IU swimming Team. IU’s swimming team not only represents the US on Universiades, it has also been home to world-known sports stars like Mark Spitz. It is not by chance that Cody Miller, winner of Universiade and Olympic gold medalist, has also recently emerged from IU team.

 Meeting with Archie Miller, Head Coach of IU Basketball team

A reception hosted by IU Provost Lauren Robel ended the visit to IU’s Bloomington campus, also providing an opportunity for FISU President and Secretary General to meet with high-ranking executives of the university.


On 26 April, the final day of the programme, Mr Matytsin and Mr Saintrond joined US-IUSF President Gary Cunningham and his team for their annual board meeting.


US-IUSF is an umbrella organisation representing the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).

 Group picture after the US –IUSF meeting

The FISU President welcomed US colleagues, stressing that openness and transparency were the utmost priority for FISU in its relations with national members. He then informed US-IUSF board members about new FISU projects, initiatives and partnerships in the spheres of sport and education. It was decided during the meeting to work further in order to increase US participation not only in Universiades, but in World University Championships and educational projects as well.


US-IUSF officials shared information about the US presence at the 2017 Summer Universiade Taipei. The delegation will have more than 500 people (athletes and staff) and is expected to cover all sports at the exception of Wu-shu. It is also worth noting that the track and field team will be composed from Houston University student athletes and will be coached by Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell.


In the afternoon, the FISU delegation had a working meeting with the representatives from Lake Placid. The city authorities have already attended the 2017 Winter Universiade Almaty and are now preparing a bid for 2023 Winter Universiade.

 (right-left) FISU President Oleg Matytsin, NCAA President Mark Emmert and FISU Secretary General/CEO Eric Saintrond at the NCAA’s headquarters


A very important final meeting for FISU meeting occurred later on, as NCAA President Mark Emmert welcomed Mr Matytsin and Mr Saintrond to the headquarters of the organisation that currently unites 1100 American higher education institutions and more than 500 000 student athletes. Following the meeting where both parties pledged to work together for the benefit of university sports, FISU issued a press-release. (see below)


'Indianapolis, 28 April 2017: Following a meeting between Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU) President Oleg Matytsin, and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) President Mark Emmert at the NCAA’s headquarters, both organisations pledged closer collaboration aimed at benefitting student athletes all around the world.


“It was very clear from our meeting that both FISU and the NCAA share a common mission: using the positive values of sport to help students achieve their full potential,” said FISU President Oleg Matytsin. “Given this shared focus, it was no surprise that we should find much common ground and I look forward to seeing just how much we can achieve together in the future. It was a pleasure to recognize the achievements of the NCAA in more than 110 years of supporting student athletes.”


“I appreciate how FISU also recognizes the power of sports and the importance of promoting sports in conjunction with the university spirit,” said NCAA president Mark Emmert. “As stewards of athletics at the world’s colleges and universities, our organizations must continue to create the positive experiences and opportunities for students to not only compete but also learn through sports. To meet that charge, I am excited to collaborate with FISU.”


As an initial step towards developing a shared understanding of the benefits and applications of university sports, Mark Emmert will attend the forthcoming Taipei 2017 World University Games. While there, Emmert will contribute to a FISU Conference that will bring together university sports leaders and experts from around the world.


“Our organizations have a special opportunity to facilitate learning through sports in the context of higher education,” continued Emmert. “By providing a well-rounded experience of academics and sports, colleges and universities are best able to promote the success of students. I look forward to our organizations working together to provide a pathway to lifelong success for students around the world.”


While in Indiana, the delegation from FISU and World University Games USA also visited Indiana University, where there they toured facilities and met with student athletes.


“FISU has recently moved to a model of having universities compete directly in some international competitions, while we also maintain our traditional model of national teams in others,” added Matytsin. “This change has paved the way for greater participation from American universities. FISU was delighted, for example, to experience Hoosier basketball tradition at first hand with Indiana University sending a team to our 3x3 World University Championship last year.”



FISU thanks Lawrence Rink, Gary Cunningham, Delise O'Meally, Craig Jonas, Nels Hawkinson, Dan Calandro, Maison Haines, Ashleigh Hazley for their help in arranging US visit.