U Sports will overturn age cap decision due to pressure from coaches, potential lawsuits: report

U Sports has done an about-face regarding its age cap decision.

Originally, the Canadian University board of directors voted against the one-year exception despite the Football Technical Committee, made up of affected head coaches and athletic directors, voting unanimously in favour of the fifth-year athletes.

However, TVA’s Charles-Antione Sinotte reports the governing body has reversed course: According to sources, U Sports will overturn decision to have 24 years old student-athletes loose eligibility because of cancelled season (COVID). Pressure from coaches, fans and 2 potential lawsuits from players accelerated the decision being overturned.

U Sports cancelled its football season and 2020 Vanier Cup in June due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision came as a result of the on-going uncertainties with student-athlete health and safety, travel and public health restrictions that affect parts of the country and different curriculum delivery models being proposed on the campus of its 56 member universities.

As a national multi-sport organization that is based in an academic setting, U Sport made changes to exemptions and qualifications pertaining to athletic scholarships (officially known as Athletic Financial Awards, or AFAs) and eligibility.

The initial ruling was delayed a full week and turned on the pages of a 13-page legal memorandum requested by the organization to examine the possible long term effects of an exception.

The age cap was originally instituted as a clarification of the previous five years of eligibility in seven years after high school graduation policy, designed to prevent athletes in their late twenties competing against 18-year-olds fresh out of high school.

Based on the report, 24-year-old student-athletes who were planning to play their final season on the gridiron will be able to finish their careers when university sports resume.