University football

SMU must wait for Loney Bowl decision

Hearing about rescheduling the cancelled championship football game to reconvene Saturday

The Saint Mary’s Huskies were set to play in the Loney Bowl, but AUS cancelled the game Thursday afternoon.   Nicholas Frew

Saint Mary’s University will have to wait another day to see if the Loney Bowl will be rescheduled.

Associate Chief Justice Deborah Smith is giving lawyers until 12 p.m. Saturday to file an affidavit; the hearing will reconvene later at 3 p.m.

On Friday evening Smith had a conference call with lawyers representing SMU; Acadia University and Atlantic University Sport (AUS), the regional governing body of university sports, in an attempt to reschedule the AUS title game.

SMU was set to face the Acadia Axemen in the Loney Bowl on Saturday, until the AUS announced Thursday the game would be cancelled due to an ongoing investigation. Acadia, who topped the standings, advanced to the national semifinal by default.

SMU is being investigated by U Sports, the national governing body of university sports, for possibly having an ineligible player.

Earlier Friday, SMU was granted a temporary injunction against U Sports by the Ontario Superior Court. It means the SMU football investigation is on hold and U Sports cannot intervene with the cancellation of the Loney Bowl.

Margaret Murphy, associate vice-president of external affairs at SMU, released a statement Friday morning.

“The Hon. Justice Todd L. Archibald of the Ontario Superior Court has released his decision and granted Saint Mary’s interlocutory motion against U Sports,” Murphy said.

“It is our position that the Loney Bowl should be played this weekend to decide the AUS conference champion properly, through a game of football.”

Graham Brown, U Sports president and CEO, said it was the AUS that cancelled the Loney Bowl.

“In our opinion, the game must be played,” he told reporters. “But we don’t have any jurisdiction over the Atlantic University Sport.”

Even though AUS teams are members of U Sports and the Loney Bowl is a national quarterfinal game, it’s in the AUS’ jurisdiction. This means if the AUS wants to reverse Thursday’s decision of cancelling the Loney Bowl, it can.

Phil Currie, AUS executive director, released an affidavit late Friday afternoon. He said doesn’t believe the Ontario Superior Court ruling—that the game be played—has merit and still wants the game cancelled.

Complaints filed

The U Sports eligibility policy states a football player is prohibited from U Sports competition for one year, if they’re affiliated with a professional team in a way “that directly or indirectly confers a monetary benefit to the athlete after August 15.”

Archelaus Jack was cut from the Saskatchewan Roughriders practice squad on Oct. 11, 2016, but has played with SMU in every game this season.

According to Brown, U Sports received an anonymous complaint about Jack on Oct. 23. Over the next couple of days, U Sports made Saint Mary’s aware of the allegations and the school’s legal department responded.

“What (U Sports) did, at that particular time, was simply choose not to pursue it as U Sports,” Brown said. He later added, given the limited information U Sports had at that time, they just weren’t prepared to do an investigation.

But that doesn’t mean other teams couldn’t make a formal complaint and force an investigation — which is exactly what the four other AUS football teams did on Nov. 3.