Sports teams and organized physical training were part of the University’s activities from its beginning in 1908. Formal instruction in this discipline originated in the Department of Physical Education in the Faculty of Education (1945–54), which became a School (1954) and finally a Faculty (1964) of Physical Education, the first such institution in the Commonwealth. Along with supporting academic endeavours through graduate studies and research, the Faculty administers intramural and recreational programs on campus and acts as an advisor for intercollegiate athletics. Currently the Faculty is comprised of the Departments of Physical Education and Sports Studies, Recreation and Leisure Studies, and Athletics.
Preceded by the Division (1971–75) and Department (1975-86) of Athletic Services, the Athletics Department’s programs are recreational, not academic. The Department of Athletics administers intercollegiate athletics and campus recreation, as well as providing community service through summer sports camps for youth.
An integral part of the Department of Athletics is the Green and Gold Athletic Society (GGAS). Established in the early 1980s to raise funds to support athletics teams at the University of Alberta, GGAS began as a fee‑for-membership-based organization composed of people and corporations that wanted to commit to the development of sport on campus. Members would receive certain benefits based on their level of sponsorship.
In 1985, the structure of GGAS changed: it became an umbrella organization that would formalize alumni support while providing a common voice and advocacy on behalf of the Department of Athletics and all of its varsity teams. The Green and Gold Athletic Society, then, is the umbrella organization that seeks to support and foster individual varsity teams and acts to advocate for all of University of Alberta athletics from a position outside athletics or the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation.
GGAS eventually became the collective alumni association that lends financial and personnel support to the University of Alberta Interuniversity Athletic Program. Funding was provided in the form of GGAS grants, to be utilized for travel, equipment, uniforms, and so on. Grants would be based on need and on programs potential impact. Support groups submitted grant proposals to the Society.
It was later decided that the Department of Athletics should fund these financial concerns and the focus of GGAS shifted to scholarships. The Sports Wall of Fame Scholarship, currently the important financial contribution put forward by the GGAS, was established in 2000 as a recruitment tool to help coaches attract top athletes. GGAS is also responsible for hosting the Green and Gold Awards Night, Academic All‑Canadians Banquet, and the Sports Wall of Fame Dinner.