University of Ottawa acts on internal review

101

OTTAWA — The University of Ottawa announced today that ithas suspended its men’s varsity hockey program for the entire2014-15 season. The University also announced that it isputting in place new policies, practices and procedures to managehockey and other varsity and competitive sports programs, includingnew behaviour guidelines for student-athletes.

These decisions were made following an internal review conductedby independent experts.

The review was undertaken after theUniversity itself reported to Thunder Bay police information itreceived in late February about allegations of misconduct on thepart of some members of its men’s hockey team during a roadtrip to Thunder Bay January 30 to February 2, 2014. The policeinvestigation continues.

As well, the head coach and program manager has been relieved ofhis duties. He was not involved in the alleged incidents, but hisreaction to them did not meet University expectations. Inparticular, he failed to report the allegations to theUniversity.

As part of the internal review, two independent experts inuniversity sport management, ethics and student disciplinaryprocesses assessed the University’s policies, practices andprocedures. The evaluation by Dr. Lorne Adams, associate professorand former athletic director at Brock University, and ManonVaillancourt, director, student life services, at theUniversité du Québec à Montréal, isbeing made public today.

At the same time, independent investigator Steven Gaon conductedinterviews related to the events in Thunder Bay, includingallegations of excessive drinking and sexual misconduct. Afterreviewing Gaon’s findings, the University concluded that thesuspension of the men’s varsity hockey program imposed inMarch should continue until the end of the 2014-2105 season.

Gaon’s findings reveal that while the events in ThunderBay represented an isolated incident, the behaviour of some playerswas unacceptable, did not reflect the University’s values andfailed to meet the University’s expectations of itsstudent-athletes. Gaon’s findings will not be published, toavoid any interference with the ongoing police investigation andout of respect for the University’s privacy obligations.

The University will work on rebuilding the men’s varsityhockey program over the coming year.

“We have taken this matter very seriously,” saidUniversity of Ottawa President Allan Rock. “We have dealtwith these troubling incidents and we have learned from them. Nowwe are looking to the future and putting in place new measures thatinclude better training for all student-athletes andstaff.”

The University also created its Task Force on Respect andEquality to assess broader policies and practices related to allstudents. The task force is expected to report in thefall.