Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) has launched a women's hockey pilot project offering more scholarship money to see if it keeps athletic talent in the country.

Almost 4,000 Canadians are on NCAA rosters in the United States, including 400 female hockey players, according to new CIS chief executive officer Pierre Lafontaine.

Here are five things to know about the new scholarship funds:

  • In addition to tuition and fees, Canadian university women's hockey teams are now allowed to cover room and board. But they will operate under a financial cap limiting how many scholarships can be offered.
  • The pilot project will last five years.
  • The cap is 70 per cent of the total cost of tuition, school fees, room and board for 14 players. Each team's cap will be different because those costs differ from province to province.
  • To make it easier to return to the CIS from the NCAA, the rule requiring a Canadian athlete to sit out for a year if they switch was eliminated.​​​
  • All 33 CIS women's hockey teams can participate in the pilot project, but not all are doing so. The university, or the team, has to come up with the money to cover the increased cost of scholarships under the program.

Lured by 'full rides'

High school athletes, and their parents, are often dazzled by the prospect of a "full-ride" scholarship to an NCAA school. 

Of the 22 players named to that team, 20 will play in the NCAA in 2014-15. One will play in the CIS for McGill University and one has yet to decide where she will play her post-secondary hockey.

A New York Times article in 2008 reported the average annual female hockey scholarship at a Division 1 school to be $20,540. It's difficult for Canadian universities to compete for elite athletes like those on the under-22 women's hockey team.

They said it

  • "I think it's going to get more kids to take it seriously," University of Regina coach Sarah Hodges said. 
  • "The intent would be that we would be able to keep some of the top players at home," York University women's coach Dan Church added.
  • "If the CIS has the opportunity to say 'hey, we have a full scholarship for you, come check out our school, we have a great academic program,' yeah, I would have looked into it," said Blayre Turnbull of Stellarton, N.S., who is entering her senior year at the University of Wisconsin.
With files from CBC Sports