October has been a month of turmoil for the Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. The polytechnic college, just under an hour north of UTSG, suspended both its male and female rugby teams on October 2. The reason for the suspension: alleged violations against the college’s code of expectations.
“The school’s code of expectations includes guidance on dress codes, hazing, alcohol and drug use, among other areas” reads an article from The Canadian Press, in correlation with Humber’s policies, classified as a “level four” offence. The highest possible level of offence, level four suspensions are classified as acts or offences which “pose a danger or threat to individuals, are in many cases illegal, and in most cases have already caused physical or psychological harm.”
The indefinite suspension of the teams will be determined by the results of an internal investigation. The Ontario College Athletics Association (OCAA) has been informed of the suspension of both teams. “We take matters of our athletics, of our students, we take all this very seriously,” said Andrew Leopold, Humber College’s director of communications.
Although there has been much speculation as to why the college chose to suspend the teams, this isn’t the first time that a program has been suspended by an inter-college or inter-university governing organization like the OCAA.
In March of 2014, the University of Ottawa’s varsity men’s hockey team was suspended after allegations of sexual assault arose after a tournament at Lakehead University.
Certain players on the team, however, were granted the opportunity to transfer immediately to another hockey program at a different university after Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) CEO Pierre Lafontaine waved the mandatory one-year waiting period. “Our position is to support the student athletes,” said Lafontaine, of the decision to let the players transfer. The team’s head coach was fired due to his failure to report the incident to the university.
Other instances of program suspensions include Dalhousie University’s women’s hockey program. The team’s 2013 season was forfeited due to the alleged hazing of rookie players. Although the entire team was not suspended — rookie players were allowed to remain — the team was forced to forfeit the season due to lack of players. In September of 2009, Carleton University also suspended it’s women’s varsity soccer team for rookie hazing. The team was only suspended for two games, participating in charity work at a local soup kitchen during their off-time.
A case that hits closer to home is the suspension of the Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team in 2009. The university suspended the team for seven days for a breach of the student-athlete code of conduct in an incident involving alcohol consumption during a pre-season trip to New Jersey. Although seven days seems like a slap on the wrist in comparison to a yearlong suspension, the team was subsequently forced to forfeit two games, the head coach was suspended for four games and the team’s assistant coach was dismissed from his duties at the university.