By: Dylan Webb
The Simon Fraser University men’s hockey team have missed out on the playoffs for the first time in the organization’s BC Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) history due to a ruling by the BCIHL player eligibility committee handed down just a week before league playoffs were scheduled to kick off. The ruling holds that SFU must forfeit 11 games that had already been played due to a member of the team having been deemed academically ineligible to play in the second half of the season.
The ruling states that the player in question was determined to be academically ineligible after the fall semester for failing to meet BCIHL minimum academic standards. Subsequently, the player played for a total of 11 games played between January and February 2018 before the infraction was discovered. BCIHL regulations stipulate that Simon Fraser University must forfeit all points earned in the games in which the ineligible player participated.
For the purposes of clarity, it is important to note that the player in question was a member of the team for the entire year and only become ineligible upon the submission of inadequate grades for the fall semester. In other words, this was not an example of a team flouting league rules to bring in an ex-professional player to get an unfair advantage. Rather, this was an internal mix up that unfortunately cost the organization a playoff opportunity as the team didn’t pick up the change in eligibility on their current roster until it was too late.
The ruling is a blow to an organization that had previously never missed the playoffs. It is also a frustrating and abrupt end to the season for a team that had been on an incredible tear over the second half of the season in which they picked up most of their wins and points and had built momentum for a playoff run. Ironically, this is the part of the season the ruling directly concerns. The academic nature of the eligibility issue has certainly called into question some of the clubs internal academic procedures and processes, which are likely to be reviewed during what will be one of the longer off-seasons for the Clan in recent memory.
The sensitive and frustrating nature of the issue has unsurprisingly resulted in a lack of enthusiasm for interviews dealing specifically with the subject. However, numerous members of the team have expressed support for a restructuring of the organization’s academic reporting procedures in the wake of the ruling this week in order to ensure any player deemed ineligible will be prevented from playing in any official league games. Possible changes to these types of procedures will be just one of many changes the Clan will ponder this off-season with a graduating class of six key seniors meaning there will be plenty of room for roster turnover.