On July 5, 2012, Ontario Basketball (OBA) announced a four-year partnership with the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States (AAU). The popular U.S. based sporting body will become an official partner in the development of basketball within Ontario, while OBA will be given official sanctioning status throughout the province.
“The AAU represents a quality exposure opportunity for our deep basketball talent. OBA is thrilled to begin this terrific partnership,” said Ken Urbach, president, Ontario Basketball.
In the past, the summer time frame had been a stagnant one from an OBA point of view as their guidelines had encouraged rest, recovery and individual skill building. They felt that this was necessary following the sometimes vigorous High School and OBA rep season, which could span as many as 9 months. But with the recent trend of an increasing number of teams being formed in order to fill that summertime void and to also get players seen by NCAA coaches, unsanctioned summer travel teams have been popping up and including several AAU tournament stops on their agenda. Its appears that those teams are the primary target of this latest agreement by Ontario Basketball who appear ready to put the appropriate measures in place.
“A recent study suggests that many of our member clubs and athletes participate in AAU events for increased programming and competition throughout the summer. This AAU partnership will ensure our athletes are receiving the appropriate development opportunities in Canadian Sport for Life stages, alignment with the Canada Basketball national program pathway, in addition to NCAA and CIS recruitment education.”
The partnership has four key areas of collaboration: Ontario Cup provincial championships, Team Ontario, OBA member club administration and domestic AAU tournament hosting.
“We are excited and overjoyed that the athletes of Ontario will be given opportunities to participate in AAU events,” said James Parker, AAU Director of Operations. “It is our vision and goal to not only have Ontario athletes come to the United States to compete in our events but for us to host events in Ontario as well.”
Starting in the 2012-13 OBA season, winners of Division 1 for Ontario Cup Provincial Club Championships in the Under 13-17 boys and girls categories, will be given direct qualification to the AAU National Championships. Ontario Basketball will cover the cost of team and participant registration.
Team Ontario, the pinnacle of provincial basketball at the Under 15 and Under 17 boys and girls categories, will participate annually in the invitation-only AAU Super Showcase, in addition to other AAU events in the United States as part of its training regime in advance of the Canada Basketball National Championships.
As the partnership develops, AAU will utilize OBA to welcome Ontario clubs to participate in American tournaments. In future years, AAU will direct all teams from Ontario to utilize OBA for sanctioning. As a further incentive for OBA teams, member clubs have the option of enhancing their insurance to provide coverage in the U.S.A. as well as take advantage of travel and accommodations group discounts.
“As we strengthen and protect our loyal member clubs, this partnership will reward those clubs who develop and train our coaches and athletes, and not just attempt to recruit. We need to ensure our stakeholders better understand the benefits and regulations for NCAA, CIS and AAU opportunities. While we have much work to do, this new AAU partnership brings tremendous added value to our members. OBA looks forward to a growing relationship with the AAU.”