OUA, McMaster fumble suspension of head coach Greg Knox

McMaster’s football coach has been suspended for a game by the governing body of Ontario university sports, the school says.

No he hasn’t, says the head of Ontario University Athletics.

Confused? You should be.

If you were trying to write a story about the most puzzling, confounding handling of a situation in Canadian university sports, you’d have a hard time topping what played out on Tuesday.

Mid-morning, reporters began calling the school’s acting director of athletics, Mark Alfano, to ask about rumblings they’d heard about head football coach Greg Knox being in trouble for something that happened in the Marauders’ win over Laurier on Sept. 22.

Sources say it stemmed from a verbal thing involving a yard-stick official.

However, since nobody will say anything officially about the alleged incident, we can’t offer any further details.

Nonetheless, a little over an hour later, Alfano sent out a sparse-on-details press release. It read: “McMaster’s head football coach Greg Knox has been suspended for one game by Ontario University Athletics.

“The suspension follows an incident involving a game official that took place during the last Marauder game against Laurier.

“The University is reviewing the incident and has placed Knox on leave pending the results of its review. Assistants Tom Flaxman and Scott Brady will serve as interim head coaches for this week’s game.”

When some further answers were requested, Alfano — who’s been minding the shop since Glen Grunwald departed for Canada Basketball — directed questions to the school’s director of communications. Gord Arbeau then said what was provided was the extent of their comment on the matter. When asked some follow-up questions by email anyway (Was this allegedly a verbal or physical altercation? What exactly is the process for a university review? Is there a time frame for the review to be completed?) he essentially re-wrote the same relatively unhelpful statement.

“The OUA has issued the one-game suspension for an alleged incident involving a game official. The University is reviewing the incident and has placed Coach Knox on leave pending the results of the review. I can’t provide a time frame as this is an ongoing review.”

Arbeau said McMaster was notified of the suspension by the OUA.

Here’s where things get strange.

While Mac says its coach has been suspended, the CEO of the OUA says that’s not the case. Knox hasn’t been suspended. Not by his organization, anyway.

A suspension would only be announced once all the steps in the hearing process have been done, Gord Grace explains. That includes an appeal which Knox says is in the works. A suspension would be announced … “Only if the process is exhausted,” Grace says. “But that hasn’t been finalized yet.”

In other words, there is not a “final final outcome.” So, no suspension. Not yet, anyway. Maybe not ever, depending on the appeal.

Grace says he’s trying to have the appeal hearing done before Friday morning’s game against Queen’s even though the compressed timing is a challenge. Until that’s done and a final verdict is returned, he says a coach can usually keep coaching. Though schools are free to make their own decisions as it pertains to staffing or discipline.

So, McMaster’s press release is incorrect? Knox isn’t really suspended? At least, not by the OUA?

“I’ll tell you why it’s incorrect,” Grace says. “Because we have a process.”

Hence the reason the OUA didn’t send out a press release of its own announcing a suspension. That process hasn’t wrapped up yet. These things generally remain internal until all the steps have been taken. Then if guilt is determined, it’s made public.


Yes. As mud.

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