SACKVILLE (CUP)—Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) has had to deal with several large-scale issues over the past few years, with the problems lying in the schools themselves. Hazing, steroids, and eligibility issues have raised huge controversy in recent times, and the league, as well as its schools, has had to impose harsh sanctions on the teams involved.
Although the schools usually administer the punishment, often it comes down to oversights or lack of supervision by the athletics departments on their teams that cause these issues to come up.
In 2005, the CIS was rocked by news of disturbing hazing that the rookies of the McGill Redmen football team went through. With just three games remaining in that season’s schedule, the University cancelled the rest of their season. In addition, the league imposed sanctions including a multi-year ban from appearing in any televised games. The Redmen have endured tough times since then, including four 0–8 seasons.
Apparently the Dalhousie Tigers womens’ hockey team didn’t learn from McGill’s mistakes, and this year the entire second half of their season was cancelled by the school after news of hazing went public. The school suspended all of the team’s veteran players and subsequently cancelled all remaining games. It will be interesting to see if the team will be able to recover from this.
The Waterloo Warriors football team are still trying to recover from their steroid scandal that saw them suspended for the entirety of the 2010 season. After one player was arrested for trafficking steroids, the school called for the entire team to be tested. Nine players tested positive, and the season was suspended.
The CIS offered players from the squad who did not test positive the opportunity to transfer to other schools and play immediately, without having to wait for a year as per normal transfer requirements, so as expected, many players did transfer, and Waterloo has had two winless seasons since.
Another thing that is becoming a massive issue is the eligibility of players. In this season alone, Bishop’s and Concordia football teams and University of Prince Edward Island, St. Francis Xavier, Winnipeg, Montréal, and McGill for men’s soccer teams have had to forfeit games. Last season as well, York women’s volleyball and the University of British Columbia (UBC) football had to forfeit their seasons due to ineligible players.
York had finished first in the regular season, and was set to host the championship tournament, but because they used an ineligible player in their quarter-final victory, the playoff win was forfeited and York lost its right to host the championship.
Likewise, UBC had racked up a 6–2 regular season, and lost the Canada West championship game. Disclosure of an ineligible player being used all season led to the Thunderbirds forfeiting all their wins, and the 2011 season is now officially listed as 0–8.
Using ineligible players is the easiest thing an athletics department can prevent. They monitor the grades and eligibility of the athletes, so allowing one to dress for games is inexcusable, unless the department didn’t know about it and the team’s coaching staff made the decision. While preventing the use of steroids and hazing is further from the control of the athletics department, there should still be policies for the teams to follow so these issues can be avoided.
With the events of recent years, and especially on the heels of the Dalhousie hazing incident, I expect, and hope, that schools and athletic departments across the country crackdown on monitoring their sports teams so that next year the CIS can have a sanction-free season.