uOttawa fires men's hockey coach, extends team's suspension
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, June 25, 2014 3:32PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 25, 2014 6:04PM EDT
The University of Ottawa has fired the coach of its men’s hockey team and will extend the program’s suspension into the 2014-15 season following an internal investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by some team members earlier this year, president Allan Rock announced.
The school will not release the results of that investigation so as not to compromise the criminal probe into the alleged incident, Rock said. But the school is acting on several recommendations to improve how its sports programs are run and to ensure student athletes have a clear code of conduct to follow, he told reporters Wednesday.
“Our concern is to ensure that the behaviour of our student athletes is always in keeping with the expectations of the university and the values of this community,” Rock told an Ottawa news conference, reading from a prepared statement.
Rock stated while the head coach was in no way involved with the alleged incident, he was fired because he did not immediately inform school authorities upon learning of it, apparently just hours after it allegedly took place.
The coach came up with his own disciplinary measures for the team, Rock said. When asked whether the coach personally suspended some players, Rock answered: “I think so, yes.”
The university will rebuild the men’s hockey program over the coming year, he said.
The university suspended the men’s hockey team in early March, after police began an investigation into allegations that several players were involved in a sexual assault while the team was in Thunder Bay, Ont., from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1. The team was in town to play two games against Lakehead University.
The school only learned of the alleged incident when contacted by a third party on Feb. 24. School officials called police the following day.
Rock announced the internal review only days after the team was suspended, saying he wanted to know why the school only learned of the alleged incident weeks after the trip.
There were two parts to that review, according to a statement from the university. One was conducted by an independent investigator, Steven Gaon, who looked into allegations of “excessive drinking and sexual misconduct,” the statement said.
“Gaon’s findings reveal that while the events in Thunder Bay represented an isolated incident, the behaviour of some players was unacceptable, did not reflect the University’s values and failed to meet the University’s expectations of its student-athletes,” the statement said. Gaon’s findings will not be made public.
Another part of the review was conducted by two independent experts in university sports management, who assessed the school’s policies and procedures for managing its varsity sports programs.
Thunder Bay police say they have concluded their investigation into the allegations and are reviewing their findings with the Crown, The Canadian Press reported.
Chris Adams, a spokesperson for the force, said investigators will make an announcement related to the case “within the next few weeks.”
On Wednesday, Rock acknowledged that it has been “an especially difficult time” for hockey players who were not in Thunder Bay when the alleged incident occurred, as well as for those who were in town but were not implicated.
“The shadow cast by the allegations of misconduct has affected all members of the team,” he said. “Some unfairly.”