UTM hockey player Rory Bourgeois voiced his displeasure in October with his suspension from UTM hockey.
Over the month following the ban, John Robb (U of T’s manager of intramurals), Adam Niaz (the president of UTMAC), and Michael Keaveney (Bourgeois’ hockey coach) spoke up to give their take on the suspension and the protocol surrounding it.
Bourgeois was forced to miss two games of UTM Division 1 hockey because he played for OISE’s team. The intramural rules state that a player can’t play for more than one team in the same season (intramurals and Division 1 don’t fall under one umbrella).
The issue for Bourgeois was that he was also banned from the intramural “East-West Classic” game that pitted UTM against UTSC. Bourgeois didn’t see why his suspension should prevent him from playing in this matchup, since it was made in Division 1.
“The situation is, when you incur a suspension, you must sit out in that sport until it’s been served,” said Robb.
“He incurred it in the interfaculty of the program, which is where his Division 1 was played,” added Robb, “which means as soon as that second game has passed, he’s eligible to play again.”
Robb went on to explain the history of the penalty. He also explained that the ban applies to all games in the sport until the suspension is lifted, and addressed the issue of eligibility to play on multiple teams:.
“Tri-campus is a different situation; we allow those players to play for more than one team. A few players are allowed to play down to provide leadership at the lower-level teams,” he said.
Bourgeois saw UTMAC’s absence at policy-making meetings as part of the cause.
“We’d certainly prefer to have UTM representatives at the meetings, but we understand the constraints of time and distance,” said Robb. “UTM has an excellent full-time staff that can help them understand the procedures and the policies.”
In a phone interview, Niaz addressed was what he considered a misrepresentation of the council’s participation. “One missed meeting, especially at the beginning of the year, is not much a hit towards us, because it’s a starting point and it even gets sent to us in an email anyways,” he said. “The most important ones are in January or February. This does not dismiss the fact that we should be at the meetings, but obviously, due to certain restraints—like, we were pretty busy planning the frosh, and that meeting was actually in the summer. A couple of us weren’t around, the time was hectic, and the school was starting up. So there are other things that factor into this.”
He added, “These meetings are not to be attended by myself, but to be attended by other people in my council. Specifically, people that are more geared toward the intramural program. Any changes that are usually to be made are made later on in the year—closer to January to February. That’s when everything is set. At the first initial meeting, everything is just introduced.”
The question of whether the meeting is important is a major one, but Niaz doesn’t like having the finger pointed at him.
“I’m not saying the meeting was not important; every meeting is important,” he says. “But whatever the situation that [Bourgeois] is bringing up—that UTMAC was not at the meeting—is completely irrelevant [to] what his case is. Sure, the one meeting was missed, but if there was nothing brought to my attention about it before, then there’s really not much that I can do for it after.” He adds “Now that it’s been brought to me, I can make sure something can be done about it.”
Niaz wants to examine what was done and what could have gone differently.
“From this point on, because I see that this has become an issue, this is something that will be addressed when we sit [in the meeting],” he said. “If there was a possible way at that time, I would have made sure somebody would have went. But there wasn’t any possible way that somebody could have been present.”
Bourgeois had suggested that forming a players’ association, like the league has at UTSC, would help to deal with issues like this. Niaz is open to hearing more about the idea. “If he were to come speak to myself, for sure it would be given some consideration and thought,” he said, “depending on what this players’ association would constitute and what benefit it would bring to the players themselves.”
Keaveney, the coach of UTM’s Division 1 hockey team, said that he regrets the suspension, and is confident that UTM would have won the game had Bourgeois played. His focus is on how the team and the UTM hockey program as a whole can improve.
“This season, the guys have been asking for more in-depth, intense practices. It’s tough to plan a practice when guys can’t come because of tests or exams. We’ve done our best, and I’ve seen a lot of guys improve their hockey skills exponentially by coming out,” he said. “It’s just tough as a coach to prepare when you don’t know what kind of numbers you’ll get. “Another change I would like to see is more events. The boys have to travel downtown or to tournaments on their own buck. As well, we don’t have track suits,” he added. “We’ve spitballed in the room before about fundraisers—like pub nights—but nothing has come about. I think if we can get something like that going, it would really help the program.”