U of Ottawa suspends hockey team after review into sex allegations
The University of Ottawa has suspended its men’s varsity hockey program for the 2014/2015 season and fired its head coach following an internal review into allegations of a gang sex assault by some of their players.
While the coach was not involved in the alleged incident, he became aware of it and tried to handle it himself — including disciplining players — without reporting it to the school, University of Ottawa president Allan Rock said Wednesday.
“The shadow cast upon allegations of misconduct has affected all members of this team, some unfairly. At the same time, I would ask for some understanding in the difficult decision for which the university finds itself,” said Rock.
“We suspended the program, not the team. We believe something is wrong with the program.”
Rock does not believe any sponsors have pulled out due to the allegations, and hopes the school’s reputation will be judged on how they responded to the issue.
The incident allegedly occurred in Thunder Bay in Feb., where the Ottawa GeeGees were on a road trip. It surfaced only when a friend of the victim contacted University of Ottawa personnel.
No charges have been announced as a police investigation continues, but the university also hired its own independent investigator.
The findings of that review were not made public, but Rock said it was enough to show the behaviour of some players was “unacceptable.”
“I was not proud of conduct I read about to the point where I believe suspending the team for the rest of the year was the right thing to do,” said Rock.
Rock said he does not believe the university is jumping the gun with the suspension and firing ahead of the outcome of the police probe.
The school is now implementing new policies and procedures around hockey and other sports, including behaviour guidelines for student athletes.
The university will work on rebuilding the men’s varsity hockey program over the coming year.
Student union leader Anne-Marie Roy said while some people may feel the move is unfair, she welcomes measures being put in place surrounding student athletes.
“ I’m not surprised that they’re suspending the hockey team for another year,” said Roy. “I think there’s a lot of work that we need to do around the issue of rape culture on campus.”
Thunder Bay police were not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.
Do you think the university made the right decision to cancel the upcoming hockey season?