The Huskies are preparing to host a playoff game this Saturday, but who will be showing up at Griffiths is a mystery thanks to another eligibility issue in Canada West.
The team in the spotlight this time is the University of Manitoba Bisons. According to media reports from Winnipeg, Bisons’ receiver Julian Hardy, who played in the first five games of the year, had used up his CIS eligibility in 2008.
Hardy came to the Bisons in 2008 after playing for the University of Ottawa in 2001. He was suspended in November, 2001 after testing positive for a banned substance in a doping control test conducted by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. His penalty was a four-year suspension from CIS football, with each year counting toward his eligibility.
Hardy also played in the 2008 season, returning kicks in three of the Bisons four home games. This year, his contribution was more significant, catching eight passes for 66 yards and touchdown. The Bisons were 2-3 during the games Hardy was on the roster, with wins coming against UBC on September 19 and Alberta on October 3. Manitoba was also awarded a win from the September 11 game against Simon Fraser, a game the Clan won but forfeited because they also had an ineligible player on their roster.
The playoffs were set after the Huskies beat the Rams last Friday, with the Alberta Golden Bears scheduled to make their third appearance at Griffiths this season. However, that remains in doubt pending the decision of both the CIS Competition Committee and the Canada West University Athletic Association. Should the Bisons forfeit the two wins they earned, it would take them out of a playoff position and move Regina up to fourth and Alberta to third. This would mean the Huskies would face the Rams at home on Saturday, while the Golden Bears would visit the Calgary Dinos.
Of course, no decisions have been released yet. As it stands, Alberta will be making the trip to Saskatoon on Saturday. However, as Canada West has taken wins away from Simon Fraser for using an ineligible player this year, it appears a similar decision is in order for this infraction. The powers that be in the CIS and the Canada West conference will have a difficult decision ahead of them if they decide to forfeit Manitoba’s wins Hardy was involved in, as the Bisons were awarded a win in a game they originally lost against SFU because of an ineligible player.
Who wins a game where ineligible players were on the rosters of both teams? Also, does the timing of the self-disclosure of the ineligible player, which was apparently after the game against Calgary on October 10, weigh in Manitoba’s favour in the eyes of the disciplinary bodies?
In any case, the Huskies and all the other teams hanging in the balance will want a decision as soon as possible so they can start preparing in earnest for their opponent to be. If the Huskies are facing the Rams, they have the advantage of preparing for the same team they prepared for last week, and will have fresh game film to work from. From a fans perspective, facing the Rams would be preferable to a third game against Alberta, and an intraprovincial playoff game would likely bring in a much bigger crowd,
Expect an interesting decision, along with a lot of discussion and debate, tomorrow. Below is a video of coach Brian Towriss’ reaction to this situation.