CIS throws the book at Cascades for eligibility violation
Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) brought the hammer down on the University of the Fraser Valley, issuing a series of sanctions for allowing an ineligible men's basketball player to take the court for four league games.
In a press release Wednesday afternoon, the CIS and the Canada West conference placed UFV on two years' probation, fined them $2,750, and suspended the briefly ineligible student-athlete – whose name they declined to release – for an additional four games, among other penalties.
Canada West had already stripped UFV of the two wins they had earned while the ineligible athlete played – an 85-80 overtime win over UBC-Okanagan on Feb. 1, and a 92-66 win over Thompson Rivers on Feb. 8.
Forfeiting those two games dropped the Cascades from 11-9 to 9-11 and put their playoff status in limbo, but they split a home-and-home set vs. Trinity Western last weekend to clinch the fourth and final post-season berth in the Pacific Division.
The fines and the probation are stiff penalties, but the additional suspension for the player – after already stripping the Cascades of the wins they'd earned while he suited up ineligibly – seems excessively harsh, particularly since the time served will include playoff games. The UFV men open the post-season with a best-of-three series vs. the Saskatchewan Huskies on the road this week.
Factor in that UFV self-disclosed the violation as soon as they discovered it, and in light of the fact it was an honest mistake rather than a malicious attempt to skirt the rules, and the sanctions are difficult for Cascades athletic director Rocky Olfert to swallow.
"I'm really surprised, actually, about the sanctions with respect to our student-athlete not being allowed to play," he said. "But it's laid out in the CIS manual. It's a new rule that just came into play last year.
"It's not like we're being treated differently than anybody else – it would be the same if it was another school in our position. It's something we have to live with."
The student-athlete, unbeknownst to him, had been withdrawn from his courses on Feb. 1 and was no longer in good standing with the university.
Olfert didn't clarify exactly what caused the player's eligibility to lapse, but indicated an unusual series of events caused it to go undetected.
"Things just kind of fell through that were shocking to us," he said.
"It's disheartening, because we're making every effort to make sure we're doing things right, and this happens . . . But it's something you have to learn from and move forward.
"Obviously we have to look at ourselves and make sure we're better next time."
The suspended player's identity will surely become apparent once the Cascades play without him this weekend, but Olfert said the athletic department won't release his name in the meantime.
"We feel bad for him, and we want to protect him the best we can," he said.
STIFF SANCTIONS FOR CASCADES
The complete list of the punitive actions levied on UFV, as per the CIS/Canada West press release, are as follows:
• Probation for a period of 24 months, during which time the University of the Fraser Valley may continue to participate in a particular sport or sports, but will be subject to a higher level of violation if another violation occurs;
• The University is required to undertake any procedural, structural or other changes in order to minimize the chance of future violations, and provide a reporting thereof;
• The University is ordered to send letters of apology to members or individuals of CIS institutions affected by the breach;
• The University shall rescind any CIS or Regional Association individual records or titles awarded to the ineligible student-athletes;
• UFV is fined $2,000 for the infraction and an additional $500 as the violation included participation in regular season play;
• The University is also fined additional $250 for the costs of the hearing against UFV.