AOC President Calls For Stronger Focus On University Sports, Calling It 'Missing Link'
Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates believes that "the universities sector is the missing link in Australian sport and one that could take up the slack of federal government funding cutbacks," according to Wayne Smith of THE AUSTRALIAN. While "staying well above the internal debate raging in Australian rugby about the re-establishment of a third-tier competition, Coates took sharp note of the Rugby Union Players Association's proposal to link such a competition to nine major Australian universities." The idea "resonated with him." Coates said, "I have long believed that the missing link now in Australian sport is tapping into the universities sector. With all the resources they have and I've seen in some sports like rowing, it's very much the backbone of the sport. It has that potential across many other sports." Coates "has no firm statistics to support the theory," but anecdotal evidence portray that "university participation by elite athletes might have plateaued or even gone into decline." Many of the country's top athletes "seem to be taking the option of deferring university study until after they have retired in order to concentrate exclusively on reaching the top in their sports" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/29).