The sports regulator for US universities has made history by voting to allow Mexican colleges to apply for membership with the organisation for the first time.
There are currently five Mexican institutions with US accreditation that will be able to apply for National Collegiate Athletic Association membership, allowing students and those associated to cross the border for sports matches with US institutions.
The move follows months of campaigning from the Center for Technical and Higher Education (CETYS) University, a private institution based in Baja California, Mexico, which is set to be the first US-accredited Mexican institution to join the NCAA.
A commitment between US and Mexican institutions to protect cross-border collaboration led CETYS to be granted accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in 2012, secured until 2027.
At the NCAA’s annual convention this month, delegates from Division II institutions, an intermediate-level division of competition in the organisation, voted 253 to 45 in favour of allowing Mexican colleges to petition to join the association.
Fernando León Garcia, president of CETYS University, said that the result was “great news” for international university relations.
“We have worked, and continue to work, to promote the development of well-rounded students through sports and raising the level of our athletic programme to meet NCAA Division II standards,” he said. “But beyond that, this decision represents two countries coming together through students in a cross-border framework.”
Membership for the Mexican university will depend on its meeting a number of set standards outlined by the NCAA, which represents more than 1,200 institutions and individuals in sport. CETYS already has a number of teams that travel across the border for matches with US institutions on a regular basis.
“What we are sure of is that the competitive level at CETYS, and across Mexican universities that decide to participate, will improve,” said Dr León Garcia.