‘I was given too much credit’: former Alouettes GM Kavis Reed denies allegations of salary cap circumvention in first interview since 2019 firing

Photo Scott Grant / CFLPhotoArchive.com
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

More than three years after he was fired amidst allegations of financial impropriety and salary cap circumvention, former Montreal Alouettes general manager Kavis Reed is speaking out about his departure from the franchise.

Reed was promoted to general manager in 2016 after previously serving as the team’s special teams coordinator but spent less than three seasons at the helm. He was relieved of his duties in July of 2019 after a 2-2 start to the season but then Alouettes’ president Patrick Boivin refused to share the reasoning behind that decision, citing potential legal issues.

According to reports at the time, the Alouettes believed Reed was charging the club for personal expenses. He was also accused of attempting to circumvent the CFL salary cap, making payments to a shell corporation set up in the name of a player who later distributed envelopes of cash to other members of the team.

Speaking to the Montreal Gazettes’ Herb Zurkowsky in his first media interview since those allegations emerged, Reed denies that any such arrangement was ever in place.

“I think I was given too much credit being a smart guy to set up a corporation,” Reed said. “No player or agent came out and substantiated that we were paying players through a corporation. How come no one corroborated that? Someone wanted a story and the story got legs.”

Reed claims he gave more financially to the organization than he ever filed for expenses, never submitting receipts for food purchased for staff and players. He also states that the public allegations levelled against him were never submitted in writing as part of his notice of termination, though he would not reveal the official reason given to Zurkowsky for reasons of confidentiality.

“I’m not doing this to try to clear my name; I don’t want to go down that path,” Reed said. “Those who know are the only ones that matter. As long as they understand who I am, what I tried to do and accomplish.”

The Alouettes went 10-30 during Reed’s tenure in Montreal and he frequently found himself at the centre of controversy. It was he who executed the blockbuster trade for quarterback Johnny Manziel, later clashing with the league office when the Heisman Trophy winner had his CFL contract voided for violating the terms of a behavioural agreement struck at the time of his signing. Reed was also responsible for the hiring of veteran NFL coach Mike Sherman ahead of the 2018 season, one of the biggest CFL coaching flops of this century.

In the end, it’s believed that commissioner Randy Ambrosie and the league office played a key role in the decision to oust Reed, as they had taken control of the franchise and were clearing house in pursuit of new ownership.

Despite his unceremonious departure, Reed remains proud of his Alouettes tenure and believes he did the best he could amidst extremely difficult circumstances.

“We tried very hard to be different, to make sure the player experience in Montreal was very good. Montreal was not a destination (for free agents) because of the facility,” Reed said.

“Some tough decisions had to be made and myself, particularly, had to be the bad guy. I’m fine with that. I won’t apologize. I was once a player. I wish the circumstances were different, but I hold no animosity towards anyone. I’ll go to my grave believing, wholeheartedly, we were on the right track.”