CFL suspends Toronto Argonauts’ QB Chad Kelly for minimum of nine games

Photo: Reuben Polansky/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

The CFL has suspended Toronto Argonauts’ quarterback Chad Kelly for a minimum of nine regular season games for violating the league’s gender-based violence policy. He is also ineligible to compete in the team’s two preseason games.

To be reinstated by the league, Kelly will have to attend mandatory counselling sessions conducted by a gender-based violence expert and undergo assessments by an independent expert. If he doesn’t complete the sessions and assessments to the CFL’s satisfaction, the league could modify its discipline against him.

The league came to its decision following a third-party investigation into the allegations made against Kelly, the league’s reigning Most Outstanding Player, by Toronto’s former strength and conditioning coach.

“Players are the ambassadors of our great game,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a statement. “They are expected to be leaders in the locker room and role models in the community. It was important that we performed our due diligence to properly review this matter from all points of view. That in-depth investigation found that Mr. Kelly unequivocally violated the CFL’s gender-based violence policy.

“Mr. Kelly’s suspension is the direct result of his behaviour. The addition of mandatory counselling focuses on his need for self-reflection and understanding of his actions. He must take full advantage of this opportunity for personal betterment in order to return to the CFL.”

The league also indicated that it will review its findings regarding the Toronto Argonauts’ conduct with the team.

“We were surprised by the CFL’s disciplinary decision and will be looking into the appeal process,” said Chris Lambiris, Kelly’s agent, in a statement to 3DownNation. “We will continue to do more fact-finding surrounding the decision before making a more in-depth statement.”

A former team employee filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, Feb. 21 with the Ontario Superior Court alleging that Kelly “repeatedly sought to initiate romantic connections” with her throughout the 2022 and 2023 seasons and she was fired after rejecting his advances. She also claimed that Kelly escalated his harassment on Sunday, Nov. 5 when he publicly accused her of being romantically involved with another player.

Kelly recently filed his defence in the lawsuit and denied making “any romantic or sexual overtures” towards the plaintiff, including workplace sexual harassment. He stated that she “advanced these spurious claims against him purely to draw the attention of the media to what was otherwise a very routine termination situation.”

In the team’s defence filing, the Argonauts claimed they had “no knowledge” of any behaviour from Kelly that violated the CFL’s gender-based violence policy or breached the Ontario Human Rights Code. The team also claimed that its conduct with the plaintiff was “all times fair, reasonable, lawful and undertaken in good faith.”

None of the allegations against Kelly or the Argonauts have been tested in court.

The 30-year-old quarterback signed with the Argonauts ahead of the 2022 season and came off the bench to lead the team to victory in the 109th Grey Cup over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He took over the starting job in 2023 and posted a 15-1 record, throwing for 4,123 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He also carried the ball 41 times for 248 yards and eight touchdowns.

The native of Buffalo, N.Y. signed a three-year contract extension with the Argonauts partway through last season, which made him the CFL’s highest-paid player.