Saint Mary’s in court to contest AUS decision to cancel Loney Bowl

The fate of a Canadian university football quarter-final game is scheduled for a court hearing Saturday as lawyers from Saint Mary’s University attempt a legal bid to get their team back into the Loney Bowl.

As of late Friday, the head of U Sports had said there were no plans to play the weekend championship game in Wolfville, N.S.

A day earlier, Atlantic University Sport – the governing body for university athletics in Atlantic Canada – cancelled the national quarter-final between Acadia and Saint Mary’s due to a player eligibility issue and awarded the regional title to the Axemen.

“The AUS made the decision it believes to be the best to protect the integrity and fairness of its football season,” U Sports president and CEO Graham Brown said Friday in a statement.

However, on Friday night, associate chief justice Deborah Smith of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court agreed to schedule a hearing on the matter in Halifax.

She said in a court teleconference call that she’ll hear arguments on whether the matter has to be settled urgently, and also on Saint Mary’s motion to have the game reinstated.

Court heard that the player at the centre of the bid is Archelaus Jack, a receiver with Saint Mary’s University.

The receiver hauled in a 22-yard pass from quarterback Kaleb Scott in the final game that qualified the team for the match against Acadia.

In its notice of motion brought before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the lawyers argued that U Sports – which oversees Canadian university sport – had determined the men’s football eligibility policies in questions “were ambiguous.”

The university will file a fresh set of arguments and motions on Saturday afternoon, meaning the game originally scheduled for then is unlikely to occur.

During the conference call, Saint Mary’s University lawyer Robert Belliveau said the team was willing to play the game later on the weekend or even during a weekday.

The Axemen were scheduled to host the Huskies on Saturday at Raymond Field. The AUS declared that Acadia, as the first-place team during the regular season, will represent the Atlantic conference in the Nov. 18 Uteck Bowl.

Brown had said Friday that U Sport, “had been unable to move forward with our internal processes to determine the eligibility of the player in question because Saint Mary’s have in fact proceeded with legal action, which have taken away that ability to assess the eligibility.

“The whole crux of this is that we are unable to govern this situation because the courts have supported an injunction on this particular matter.”

Voicemail requests for phone interviews with officials from Saint Mary’s and the AUS were not immediately returned. However, Margaret Murphy, SMU’s associate vice-president of external affairs, issued a statement Friday morning.

“The Hon. Justice Todd L. Archibald of the Ontario Superior Court has released his decision and granted Saint Mary’s interlocutory motion against U Sports,” Murphy said. “It is our position that the Loney Bowl should be played this weekend to decide the AUS conference champion properly, through a game of football.”

In an email, AUS executive director Phil Currie declined comment on Friday’s developments “due to legal processes taking place.”

U Sports is the national brand for Canadian university sport. However, Brown noted that AUS has jurisdiction on its championship game.

“Once this was taken outside of the governance structure of U Sports and into the hands of the courts, you are at the will of the courts,” Brown said. “I will add the courts have been extremely cognizant of the timeframes.”

The AUS decision left just three regional championship games on tap Saturday. The Axemen will play the winner of the Yates Cup between the host Western Mustangs and Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks.

In Canada West, British Columbia will visit Calgary in the Hardy Cup. In the Quebec conference, Laval will host Montreal in the Dunsmore Cup.

The Canada West champion will host the Dunsmore Cup champion on Nov. 18 in the Mitchell Bowl. The national title game – the Vanier Cup – will be played Nov. 25 in Hamilton.



9 Comments on Saint Mary’s in court to contest AUS decision to cancel Loney Bowl

  1. All because of Chris jones

  2. If Jones was serious about a Canadian player with university eligibility left he must either commit to him or more appropriately release him to finish it. Jones messed with this man’s future for his own benefit

  3. I think the rule that Canadian players can go to CFL attaining camps but can return to their university if they’re cut is a stupid rule. They have to sign a pro contract to attend training camp so these players are in essence professionals. If this rule did not exist this SMU player would not be in the situation he is in now.

    • Most often if a player has remaining eligibility and does sign with a CFL team (practice roster) the player is released to return to university sometime in August. As long as they don’t suit up for a game they can return to complete their university eligibility. I have no problem with that as the experience gained can be shared with teammates and coaches. I remember a couple of Ticats draftees 2-3 years ago who stayed with the team for the summer and then returned to school. Said it was the best summer job they’d ever had!

      • I don’t like it. Opens the door for things like this. As far as the Riders screwing the player? As much as I don’t like the Riders, I don’t blame them. Where was the kid’s agent? He hired him to look after his interests. The agent obviously didn’t know the rules which he should have so the agent let his client down.

  4. Calgary could have done this to Buckley and Crapiga too but let them go finish their college careers. I think this a new low

  5. The spirit of the rule is to allow CIS student-athletes to take part in a CFL training camp. Not to sit on the roster till the trade deadline.

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