It’s getting better

“They tell me that things will get better. I can only hope so.” With the recent suicides of five LGBTQ youth in three weeks this fall, issues of discrimination and bullying based on a person’s sexual orientation have gained prominence.

The community, faced with a suicide rate four to six times higher than in the general population, has manged to harness attention from politicians and media on continued inequalities. These struggles take place across society, including at U of T.

“It still feels […] like fighting the man,” said fourth-year student Alex Legum, sighing and shaking her head. “These are human issues.”

Legum, a member of the LGBTQ community, added that despite being a student in one of the most diverse universities and cities in North America, she continues to search for a sense of respect that remains elusive.

Steve Masse knows this struggle well. As a member of the LGBTQ community and former president of Woodsworth College, Masse advocates for increased awareness on discrimination, bullying, and respect for LGBTQ students.
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He is the first to admit, however, that many of the most vulnerable end up “suffering in silence.” According to Masse, discrimination and bullying can lead to “feeling worthless, misunderstood, or hopeless.”

Syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage started the “It Gets Better” project in the wake of five teen suicides caused by societal homphobia.

University Life Assessment and Special Programs Coordinator Melinda Scott believes “students don’t know the best way to address [suicide].” Scott explained that acts of suicide are often the result of larger issues of discrimination and hate, that the problems can appear too large to solve.

To address these problems, U of T provides a series of programs and services that support the LGBTQ community. Initiatives such as Positive Space as well as student clubs like LGBTOUT work to create spaces within which individuals can “be themselves” without shame or fear of reprisal. Additionally, the Sexual and Gender Diversity Office provides an online harassment reporting system to ensure students can report incidents of hate or mistreatment anonymously.

However, Sexual and Gender Diversity Officer Jude Tate is worried about the “increased tolerance of intolerance” that has created a culture of silence and acceptance that can reduce the number of reported abuses and conceal issues of hate and harassment towards the LGBTQ community. Issues of intolerance appear to be found in the very fabric of U of T’s communities.

This is why Legum is realistic about the merits of programs such as Equity Studies, Women’s Studies, and Sexual Diversity Studies. While these programs can be seen as progressive, in some sense, “structural issues [have] made it impossible to integrate [this information] into other classrooms.” For Legum, the presence of these programs allows LGBTQ issues to be dealt with within these specific departments while ignoring the need for broader integration.

Unfortunately, Tate further suggests that curriculum reform on a broader scale to include diversity issues and address these issues has been very tough, and obstacles remain.

“They still have a long way to [go],” said Masse, who acknowledges that universities are heading in the right direction. But even if “places of education are becoming more and more inclusive and supportive,” the fact that we aren’t hearing about the sexual and gender diversity discrimination issues on campus does not mean they no longer exist.

“We assume we are modern enough that we don’t need to have [conversations about discrimination] anymore,” said Legum.

University comes together for holiday season

The University of Toronto Students’ Union, the Family Care Office, and the Student Housing Office are organizing their ninth annual food and clothing drive to help support needy families for the holidays.

“Every year, we help anywhere between 75–100 families. It’s a rather big project, and we want whatever little bit of help we can get,” explained Marketing and Events Coordinator at the Student Housing Service, Jerry Zhuang. “Every single bit of contribution will make a huge difference.

Drop boxes have been set up across campus to collect toys and canned food. Once items are collected, UTSU Member Service Coordinator Terri Nikolaevsky explained how the goods will be distributed. “The donation of new toys will then be distributed through the campus food and clothing bank to families in need on December 10 and 17 at our site location, 569 Spadina Avenue, in the Multi-Faith Centre between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.”

“While the food and clothing bank runs all year long, we specifically collect toys at this time of the year to ensure that our student families have a great holiday season in the face of tight budgets,” continued Nikolaevsky.

Zhuang hopes U of T will come together this season and improve upon last year’s results. “We delivered around 200 toys last year. Looking to deliver to the same number of families, maybe a bit more, it’s definitely growing.”

Despite being roughly aligned with the Christmas season, Nikolaevsky stresses that all faiths and cultures are encouraged to participate. “This year we welcome Multi-Faith groups to the fold who are actively seeking donations for our students and student families.”

“We’re doing things a little differently this year,” Nikolaevsky added. “Our efforts extend further to include an annual fundraiser for the food and clothing bank [that will] showcase […] exceptional U of T talent, a wonderful three-course dinner, and an auction.”

Jennifer Bennett, manager of the Student Housing Service, said the food drive is a very key community-building event.

“The food drive is important because it’s raising awareness and creating a community between people during the holiday time, which is such a hard time for so many.”

Cheryl McGratten believes that beyond just fostering a community, the fundraiser is a way of making those who are studying abroad or are new immigrants to the country feel more welcome. “The U of T food and toy drive is one way to help those recently separated from their countries, and share some encouragement, joy, and fun,” explained McGratten, adding that she hopes they will also enjoy the diversity and multiculturalism of this city.

“It’s a great feeling, to be standing in the middle of a mountain of toys, and knowing that lots of kids will be having a wonderful winter holiday,” explained Zhuang.

In helping promote the fundraiser, the co-coordinators’ favorite catch phrase is: “We want people to help us gift a smile.”

Students gather to present visions for next big app

Last Tuesday a lecture hall in the Bahen Centre was packed for DemoCamp2, a symposium of eight presentations by U of T students demonstrating their web developments and entrepreneurial skills.

“People were actually standing in the back. They couldn’t find any more seats,” says Reginald Tan, president of Web Startup Society, who hosted the event in partnership with the U o T Entrepreneurial Society. Over 160 guests attended, well exceeding both the expected attendance of 100 and the room capacity of 150.

“We had to start turning people away after they exceeded the room capacity,” said Nitish Peters, president of UTES.

Tan and Peters created DemoCamp2 to combat what they perceived to be a lack of entrepreneurial spirit in the University of Toronto’s technology field.

“At Stanford, it seems like every single computer science student was creating a startup,” said Tan. “But when I went to U of T, I didn’t really see anything like that going on.”

Peters attributes U of T’s focus on high GPAs as a detractor from the “startup culture” found at other institutions. “DemoCamp fosters an environment where people can define their own success and show how they are following their dreams as opposed to the stereotypical environment right now where people are very marks-focused,” he said.

It wasn’t just U of T students who attended, students from all across Ontario came for the presentations as well.

“A lot of people from Queens and York showed up and really loved it, and said they wanted to start a DemoCamp at their university, which is really cool. I’d like to see that happen,” said Tan.

In contrast with last year’s DemoCamp, which was run by WSS in partnership with Rafal Dittwald, President of Skule Webdev, this year’s collaboration with UTES focused on the utility and marketability of students’ web applications, as opposed to nitty gritty tech details.

“The audience at this one was much more focused on the startup aspect, rather than the craft of making the project,” notes James Cash, the only presenter to even mention code in his demo for the Google Chrome extension, ComicNav.

Three of the eight demos were presented by student entrepreneurs with limited technical knowledge. Danial Jameel of OohLaLa, who switched from computer science to political science, showcased a mobile app for discount student coupons.

First-year commerce student Donny Ouyang, of the tutoring site Rayku, hires developers out of his own pocket. “Donny buys websites, hires developers to make improvements, then sells them off for five times the profits — instead of flipping real estate, he flips websites,” said Tan. “Rayku was his first start-up.”

When Khaled Hashem of NoteWagon.com was asked a technical question, his response was, “I don’t know, ask the tech guy.”

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The other five presentations were given by so-called “hackers.” First up was fourth year electrical engineer Bijan Vaez with EventMobi, an iPhone application that allows users to view important details about the live event that they are attending. Next were Lori Lee and Andrew Danks, undergraduate students in computer science who developed LoveUT, a dating site exclusively for U of T students that has accumulated over 800 users. Michael Rice, a second year computer science student demoed Remember To Watch, an SMS reminder for TV shows recently featured in PC Magazine and lifehacker.com. After James Cash demoed ComicNav, wunderkind Vincent Cheung took the stage and demonstrated his massively successful Shape Collage, an automatic photo collage maker.

Cheung emphasized the value of every utility-based web startup in his presentation: “A lot of [the entrepreneurs in the audience] laughed at the ComicNav extension, but I liked it. You never know, it really could be the next big thing.”

When the event ended, Reginald Tan appeared very pleased with the results.

“Ultimately, what we wanted to achieve from DemoCamp is to glorify these student hackers and hustlers. And we did just that. Democamp UofT encouraged students to do what they do best: build great things. And the great thing about the Internet is that you can make an immediate impact on the world if you create something really valuable.”


Note: this article originally stated that Danial Jameel hired student developers with money he won from business competitions, but this is not the case. It also neglected to mention that last year’s DemoCamp was in partnership with Rafal Dittwald. The Varsity regrets the errors.

UTSC Library operating hours shortened

The University of Toronto Scarborough Library has launched reduced hours in response to recent pilot studies, stirring mixed feelings from staff and students.

Last year’s 24/7 service ran 10 weeks through fall and 13 weeks through winter. This year, the service is scheduled only during exams from December 7 to December 21, and from April 9 to May 1. This represents an almost 80 per cent reduction from the previous year. For the remainder of both semesters — after Thanksgiving during fall and after February 7 during winter — the new extended hours stretch from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Mondays to Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Fridays and noon to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays.

“The library worked very closely with students in determining hours that will best serve their needs,” said Victoria Owen, UTSC’s head librarian. “We spent years conducting pilot projects, […] consultations, surveys, and focus groups to establish a schedule that is most beneficial to them.”

Since 2005, the library has been running a series of pilot projects that test the efficiency of various operating hours. Last year’s study showed that after 2 a.m., average student usage fell to 31 before exams and to 78 throughout the exam period. The numbers continued to drop until 7 a.m. when they reached an average of 17 and 50 respectively, followed by an upward trend throughout the day.

Owen explained that the changes were “designed to maximize resources and meet student demand where it exists,” but some are concerned that the library‘s current layout is still not quite meeting students’ needs.

“As a university, we aim to educate students and have them attain academic success — longer library hours will help us achieve [this] mission,” said Fran Wdowczyk, special advisor to the chief administrative officer and chair of the study space working committee advocating for the increase of 24/7 study spaces on campus.

“Some students have approached me troubled with the reduced hours,” said Scarborough Campus Students’ Union VP Academics Sulaimaan Abdus-Samad. “They just want a place where they can focus for long periods of time and not have to think of leaving at a certain hour.”

Third-year student Philip So has his own reservations. “Though a 24-hour service is ideal, we are throwing away resources by keeping the library open when less than one per cent of the [student body] is using it,” said So.

The Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre is the library at UTM, a campus of similar size to UTSC. It holds extended hours until midnight and also offers 24/7 services only around exam periods.

“UTSC has some of the longest hours among the U of T libraries,” asserts Owen, but Wdowczyk believes that there is still room for improvement.

“Increasing hours is a move that will propel the students towards success, and we will continue to work with the library so that the needs of students are realized.”

U of T lets students get outside

The University of Toronto may be the highest ranking university in Canada, but when it comes to hands-on experience, there is no doubt that it is lacking.

Enter the extern job shadowing program.

The program runs twice a year and is available to all students. It gives them the chance to explore a career area they are interested in by visiting professionals in the workplace.

The first session runs during Reading Week from February 22 to 25, and the second session runs from May 2 to 6. Placements vary in length from an hour-long informational interview to a week-long placement. U of T places about 450 students every year.

“Students, many times, get all the academic info they need but don’t have an opportunity to have a glimpse of the real world,” said Bibian Aguirre, coordinator of career exploration programs and services. “This program gives students exposure to a career they might be interested in pursuing.”

However, she stresses, this program does not offer students experience in a profession, but rather exposure to what it is like. It cannot be listed under work experience in a resume, and students do not get paid, nor are they guaranteed a job out of it — in fact, they shouldn’t expect a job at all.
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But Aguirre believes that the opportunity this program offers makes it worthwhile.

“[Students] can participate as much as they want,” she said. “The program does not necessarily end when they say goodbye to their host. Many times we have had students who have kept up relationships, and their hosts become their mentors. […] It’s a great way to network.”

Renita Persaud, a life sciences major who graduated in June, received a placement at Mount Sinai Hospital with two orthopaedic surgeons.

“I wanted to gain additional perspective and practical understanding of the field that I intended to enter,” said Persaud. “I also wished to see the day-to-day interactions, demands, and specifications of the profession. What I wanted to investigate was the effects of the occupation on the professional.”

During her five-day placement, Persaud was able to observe surgeries, interact with residents in the surgical skills labs, and visit pre-op and post-op patients. She also managed to attend a lecture with visiting specialists from the Mayo Clinic in the US.

“I believe that this experience allowed me to understand not just the professional requirements but the personality requirements of the occupation that I want to pursue. I found that information to be instrumental in my decision to pursue further studies.”

Students apply for up to four placements from a list posted online in December by the Career Centre. Along with an application, students hand in a resume which is reviewed by a panel of staff.

If selected, students attend a briefing seminar. They only learn what company they are going to connect with during this seminar. This ensures that students apply based on a career interest rather than a company. Students receive a certificate upon completion of the program.

The career centre has built up a database of organizations willing to host students for placements. Many of these hosts are U of T alumni.

“For them it is really good to give back to their community,” said Aguirre. “They know what it is like to be in the students shoes. […] Our hosts really appreciate that they’re making a difference in the lives of students.”

Saim Siddiqui, a fourth-year economics and political science student, got a placement at the US consulate that lasted a few hours.

“I suppose [it helped],” he said. “My placement, unlike that of many others, was much shorter […] but it gave me a good idea of the workplace. The placement company can be quite helpful.”

These short placements, usually informational interviews, can be a challenge, said Aguirre. “Many students think, ‘I’m going to have to go through that process for a two hour placement?’ We tell our students it’s very valuable and gives relationships of mentorship and networking.”

The next orientation sessions will be held in February and March of 2011. More information is available on the U of T career site.

Conquering cancer

Cancer cells are an unruly bunch. Instead of listening to signals telling them to differentiate into specific cell types to form tissue, they ignore these signals and grow uncontrollably to form tumours.

Most cancer treatments take a brute force approach: kill all cells that are dividing. Although such treatments effectively kill cancer cells, they also kill non-cancerous cells in the process of normal growth — for example, hair follicle cells. This makes the identification of drugs that target only cancer cells critical to the effective treatment of cancer and to improving patient quality of life.

Selectively targeting cancer cells is precisely what scientists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Research Institute in Boston have reported in the advanced online format of Nature this September.

A consortium of scientists led by James Bradner at Dana-Farber has identified the chemical inhibitor of a protein that is responsible for NUT midline carcinoma, a rare cancer of squamous epithelial cells, which are cells on the outer layer of skin. The tumours produced in NMC are the product of uncontrolled proliferation due to a defect in a protein called BRD4.

Normally BRD4 interacts with chromosomes to help turn growth genes on and differentiation genes off. This interaction is tightly regulated and only occurs when cells should be growing. But in the case of NMC, the interactions between BRD4 and the chromosome are deregulated due to the rearrangement of two chromosomes and resultant gene fusion that produces BRD4-NUT, a chimeric protein.

BRD4-NUT constantly sticks to accessible parts of the chromosome, resulting in prolonged expression of growth genes, which ultimately results in tumour formation near the head, neck, pelvis, or other areas of the “midline.” At present, there is no effective treatment for NMC, and death almost always occurs within months of diagnosis. Although NMC currently accounts for only seven to 18 per cent of poorly differentiated carcinomas, many physicians suspect it is often not recognized and diagnosed properly.

Scientists at Dana-Barber used the 3D structure of the BRD4 protein to identify and create chemicals that might be able to bind the protein and potentially inactivate it, eliminating the devastating effects of the BRD4-NUT chimera.
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They tested these chemicals on BRD4 and found that its function was inhibited when combined in a test tube with the chemical (+)-JQ1. The function of the BRD4-NUT chimera was also inhibited. Patient tumors were also grafted onto mice, creating NMC models in which to test for overt toxicity of (+)-JQ1. Experiments using these mice showed that treatment with (+)-JQ1 resulted in smaller tumours, and that treated cancer cells began programmed differentiation into squamous tissue. In addition to halting growth and promoting differentiation, (+)-JQ1 had no obvious toxic side effects, indicating its potential therapeutic value for treatment of NMC in humans.

But how broadly applicable would this treatment be, considering the rarity of NMC? Perhaps one of the most exciting results of this work from Bradner’s group is the potential to identify chemical inhibitors of proteins that are similar to BRD4. According to Dr. Corey Nislow, assistant professor at the Banting and Best Department for Medical Research and the Department of Molecular Genetics at U of T, Bradner and colleagues have “opened the door to a new target set and class of proteins.”

Because there are over 40 genes in humans encoding proteins that are similar to BRD4, the potential for these proteins to be targets for drugs similar to (+)-JQ1 is far-reaching. This is particularly important because of the approximately 30,000 proteins in the human body, only a small fraction are predicted or known to be “drugable” — or in other words, can have their functions altered by chemical drugs. Nislow praised the efforts of Bradner and colleagues for identifying BRD4 as drugable, which could potentially lead to clinical treatments for NMC as early as one to two years from now.

What about side effects? If BRD4 is a protein normally needed to instruct cells to grow at the correct time, how will a chemical inhibitor affect the growth of normal, non-cancerous cells? In other words, would this treatment really target only cancer cells?

Nislow hypothesized that, because there are approximately 40 proteins similar to BRD4, perhaps one of those could ‘cover shift’ for an inactivated BRD4, taking advantage of the robustness of human protein-interaction networks. Of course, multiple stages of testing will be required before potential side effects are identified. But for now, there will be a few less cancer cells winning the battle.

What’s that in my food? — Inulin

Inulin is a fiber derived from plants such as Jerusalem artichoke, agave, and chicory. It is found in countless processed foods because of its use as an emulsifier and texturizer. It is one of the key ingredients that help make ice cream healthier, since it functions not only as a fat replacement, but also as a prebiotic.

Inulin is a fiber, and therefore cannot be digested by humans. Nevertheless, it is fermented by probiotics that live in our guts. As a result, it is classified as a prebiotic, meaning it is essentially food for probiotics.

There are many health benefits associated with probiotics. These include everything from preventing infections to increasing calcium and magnesium absorption and reducing the risk of colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. Therefore, as a result of their health benefits, food scientists are adding probiotics to foods where they are not traditionally found, such as ice cream.

You’ve probably seen ads for ice cream with just five ingredients, a marketing tactic in response to the growing number of ingredients found in ice cream. However, many of the extra ingredients in ice cream are not necessarily bad for you. Foreign-sounding ingredients such as inulin can be healthier than the whole cream and sugar found in traditional ice cream.

Thus, combining both prebiotics and probiotics in ice cream results in the production of what food scientists call synbiotics — aptly named because of the synergistic health benefits that result from their combination. Ice cream is an ideal vehicle for synbiotics because the added inulin not only functions to maintain a proper texture in the absence of fat, but also feeds the probiotics. By feeding probiotics with prebiotics, you increase the probiotic’s ability to survive, which is essential for them to exert their positive health benefits.

In conclusion, inulin is not only a replacement for fat, but even more importantly, it is food for your food. Next time you’re indulging in low-fat probiotic ice cream, you can feel less guilty by keeping in mind that you’re probably consuming extracts from dandelions and wild yams, which can potentially keep you healthy.

Is there room for U of T in the NCAA?

South of the border, American College Football is winding down its regular season with upcoming primary rivalry games and conference championships scheduled for the first week in December. Over the next five weeks, 70 teams will be playing in 35 bowl games scattered mostly throughout the warmer climates of the southern states. Wouldn’t it be great if the University of Toronto Varsity Blues could participate? Perhaps they can.

The primary topic of discussion during the 2010 American College Football offseason concerned the expansion of the NCAA’s Big Ten and its implications for all of the other conferences. The Big Ten is America’s premier Division I organization as measured by attendance, athletic revenues, and academic standards (the Southeastern Conference is currently the best performer on the football field).

The Big Ten is incongruously named as it has 11 members, soon to be 12. The conference moves very deliberately and prospective members must pass many tests to be accepted into the group. They must be a “good fit” with membership intended to be permanent.

Only one school, the University of Chicago, has left since the founding of the conference in 1896 and that was 64 years ago. Only three schools have been added since then.

The “good fit” has been described as excellence in academics, including membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities, contiguous borders with the existing geographic footprint, and competitive athletic programs.

A new member school should be similar to the current membership — a large flagship public university with an enrollment between 20,000 and 50,000. Ideally, the school’s team will command an army of television sets, as the new school should be accretive to conference coffers.

The Big Ten Network has been a smashing success and is one of the reasons that expansion is being studied.

If the right schools are added, the quality of content on the network will improve and cable TV companies will subscribe to the service at elevated fees in the new Big Ten territory. The whole experience can be improved while increasing each school’s annual TV payout over an already staggering $22 million each; the conference divides all TV revenues equally between the schools.

The Big Ten indicated that its expansion study would address adding “at least” one school and perhaps several more. Many prognosticators forecast an ultimate super-conference of 16 schools.

This past summer, the conference added the University of Nebraska beginning in the 2011–2012 academic year. The Cornhuskers are a powerhouse franchise with the nation’s largest contingent of traveling fans. What they do not add in TV sets (Nebraska is thinly populated) they make up for in cachet — improving the content of the BTN and filling all of the stadiums they will visit during the football season. They also became the 12th team, which enabled the Big Ten to move to a two-division system with a lucrative championship game.
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The primary object of the Big Ten’s expansion desire was the University of Notre Dame. However, it did not meet several of the tests described above; it is a small private school and does not belong to the AAU. But bringing the Irish on board would be a home run for the conference.

Notre Dame, which rests right in the heart of the conference map, has a national following among Catholics, many residing in major population centers, and is the only team in the sport with its own national TV contract. The Irish continually insist that they intend to remain independent in football, but developments in the sport suggest that the storied school may be joining the Big Ten mid-decade. Notre Dame’s $15 million national TV contract with NBC pays less than the Big Ten’s $22 million payout to each member.

Scheduling is getting much more difficult for Notre Dame as most teams are only playing within their conference during October and November. Finally, a playoff system may be devised whereby seeding is based upon winning one’s conference. The Irish do not want to be left standing when the music stops. It is likely that they will eventually join the Big Ten — probably after their TV contract with NBC expires in 2015.

This is where the Varsity Blues come in. They would fit into the Big Ten like a glove.

The University of Toronto boasts an enrollment of 45,000 students, is one of two Canadian members of the AAU and is a flagship institution in Ontario. The Varsity Blues would effectively add the province, if not all of Canada, to Big Ten Network territory, and would be natural rivals to several nearby programs including Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State.

The ties that make intercollegiate athletics so compelling suggest that the Varsity Blues would be a great addition to North America’s premier collegiate athletic organization. The school has a storied tradition on the gridiron as well as the hockey rink.

Granted, the football Blue and White have not impressed for a generation. This change in paradigm may be just what is needed to bring back their championship-caliber program. It would be a great opportunity for the program to step up. It would benefit all of the school’s 26 sports and expand their competitive horizons.

There is already a roadmap in place for schools to move up divisions. The University of Connecticut moved from Division II to Division I in 2000 and enjoyed a winning record by its fourth season. It was bowl bound its fifth year and has played in bowl games the past three seasons.

The NCAA, the governing body, currently offers Canadian schools a path into Division II. Big Ten sponsorship could likely do the same with Division I. Count on a four or five year transition.

What‘s the downside? What would the Varsity Blues necessarily give up? Two words: Canadian Football, which they have been playing at the U of T since the 19th century.

For purists, this may seem like quite a sacrifice. Would the transition to American Football be worth it?

From a fan perspective — as measured by attendance and TV viewership — it’s no contest. Varsity Centre holds 5,000 fans, though they did not once fill the house in 2010. In fact, The Blues typically drew less than 2,000 fans. This is not big time football.

The Big Ten is as large as it gets in collegiate athletics. Essentially, each game is televised and the average attendance is over 70,000. If the hometown Varsity Blues simply matched the visiting Buffalo Bills Rogers Centre attendance from early November, they’d bring in about 50,000 fans per game, roughly the same as Big Ten members Purdue and Minnesota and ahead of Indiana and Northwestern.

The Big Ten season would run for 13 weeks, with 12 games played beginning the first week of September. The Rogers Centre with 54,000 seats would become the home field and would often be full with the likes of the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes coming to town.

Hockey would be moved to Ricoh Coliseum (capacity 8,140) to accommodate larger crowds to see Big Ten games. The Big Ten is contemplating adding hockey as a sport, again, pursuant to BTN programming.

Five conference schools currently play in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and Western Collegiate Hockey Association, and Penn State is adding the sport. If two more hockey teams were added, for eight total, it would likely be added as a conference sport.

If hockey is not added to the Big Ten, the Varsity Blues hockey team could take membership in the CCHA. The basketball team would move its home to Varsity Arena, until they outgrow it.

What, then, is the suggestion? That the 12-team Big Ten will simply add the University of Toronto for a baker’s dozen?

No — I expect the Big Ten will add teams two at a time. Toronto and Notre Dame could both be added for 2016 or 2017, which would give the Varsity Blues the opportunity to transition in. It would give the Irish the chance to wind up their contract with NBC and fully honor their schedules, which are largely set through 2016.