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University won’t be revealing name of football player who was declared ineligible

September 11, 2014


Queen’s University won’t be disclosing the name of the football player who was found to be academically ineligible to play this year, athletics director Leslie Dal Cin confirmed Wednesday night.

“We are not,” she said.

Even though, it was suggested, the name will become apparent as soon as the dress list for Saturday’s game is posted?

“Right now,” she said in an interview, “the player, the team, us—we’re all pretty upset by this.

“I think we just need some time.”

The Gaels forfeited their Ontario University Athletics season-opening victory at Windsor Wednesday after the university discovered a player who participated in that game was academically ineligible to do so.

The violation was discovered and verified Wednesday. Queen’s reported it to both Ontario University Athletics and Canadian Interuniversity Sport the same day.

The player played in both of the Gaels’ games to date and according to CIS regulations, the Gaels will forfeit all the games in which the player participated, but the second game is moot, at least as far as the standings are concerned, because they lost it anyway, 37-30 Saturday to Ottawa.

The Labour Day victory in Windsor, however, is gone, and Queen’s will go into its game Saturday against the Western Mustangs 0-2.

Individual statistics from both games will stand.

In addition to the forfeiture, a fine of between $2,000 and $10,000 will be assessed to the university, and it will be placed on probation by the CIS. There may also be supplemental disciplinary measures.

“It’s devastating,” Dal Cin said.

In a release, coach Pat Sheahan called the situation “unfortunate.”

“The players are obviously disappointed,” he said, “but we stand together as a team and we will put this behind us and focus on the games ahead.”

According to the release, the athletics department checks the eligibility of 1,000 student-athetes each year, and this is the first eligibility infraction in “more than 15 years.”

The last time the football team forfeited was in 1995, when Steve Bird, a backup receiver in his fourth year, was found to be academically ineligible, also after the team’s second game. That team also gave up its season-opening victory—coincidentally to the Concordia Stingers, then coached by Sheahan—but what became an 0-2 start that year didn’t deter the Gaels, who went on to reach the Dunsmore Cup final, where they lost 8-3 to the Ottawa Gee-Gees.

“I think as a result of (that situation), our eligibility system was put in place and it has been considered as a best practice for a while,” Dal Cin said, noting that about 20,000 student-athletes would have had their status determined correctly in the ensuing 20 years.

“This was an isolated incident,” she said, “and was the convergence of a bunch of stuff.”

After practice last night, which Sheahan described as “spirited” despite the news the team received Wednesday afternoon, he said he felt bad for the player, who believed he met the eligibility criteria.

Last year, Gaels centre Mike Sullivan sat out the first three games of the season while an issue in his transcript was resolved.

This time, Dal Cin said, the violation came to light during a routine check conducted within the athletics department.

“We do a series of reports and the report came up clean for a couple of weeks,” she said. “All of a sudden the athlete was flagged in a report.

“Our eligibility system has a number of checks and balances in it … we believe it was a situation of system and human error, in combination.”

Dal Cin wouldn’t elaborate on whether the human error was made by the athlete or an administrator.

“You could say our athletes are very much aware of the academic eligibility requirements,” she said.

The rule that was violated is CIS Rule, which, Dal Cin said, basically relates to student success in the previous academic year.

It reads: “A student-athlete who successfully complete (sic) a minimum of three full courses, or six half courses, or eighteen semester hours during the academic year at a degree-granting institution is, for the purpose of this rule, a student in good standing for that academic year, unless there are circumstances within their academic program which would warrant an exception … and in which the university continues to declare this individual a full-time student …”

Exceptions involve graduate students, special-needs students and students in co-op programs.

Forty-four players played in both games for Queen’s. Nine of them were freshmen, therefore not within the scope of the rule that was violated, which narrows the speculation to the remaining 35.

Neither is the ineligible player any of the seven upper-classmen who played in just one game.

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