U Sports officially overturns age cap ruling with ‘one-time exception’

Photo courtesy: U Sports

Canada’s university sport governing body has officially overturned its controversial decision to deny over age players a final season of eligibility following cancellations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

USports announced Monday, through a report by CBC’s Devin Heroux, that it will provide a one-time exception to eligibility rules that allows for all football players who would have been eligible in 2020 to compete in the 2021 season.

Word of the decision had been reported almost two week ago, but this was the first official comment from the USports board.

“After discussions with our membership, we have determined that it’s an appropriate time to explore ways to improve the current safety and participation policies in football with an anticipated completion date of February 2021,” interim USports chief operating officer Dick White said.

USports will now be reviewing all football eligibility and safety policies over the course of the season. Football is the only sport with an age cap of 25 on eligibility.

The original decision caused a flurry of controversy, with over 300 players losing eligibility through no fault of their own. The decision was universally panned by football decision makers and protested by athletes and fans alike. While USports feared losing the age cap permanently, the concerns of athletic directors ultimately swayed them to reconsider.

“After that first decision the athletic directors were the ones who reached out and talked through things and then we decided with the board to take the time to revisit it,” Lisette Johnson-Stapley, USports’ chief sport officer said

However it came about, there are now hundreds of relieved players who can end their careers on their own terms.