The head coach of the McGill Redmen football team has resigned, citing a statement issued by university administration that said a criminal conviction should have barred a former player from being invited to join the team.
“[The] statement does not represent my personal morals or values with regards to sport, recruiting, and life in general,” read the statement released Tuesday morning by head coach Clinton J. Uttley.
“If providing young men with a second opportunity has effectively cost me my position as head football coach at McGill, then I accept that consequence in order to maintain a higher moral standard than what’s been dictated.”
Uttley said he met with the team on Tuesday morning and informed them he resigned as head football coach at McGill.
'I believe in rehabilitation,' - Clinton J. Uttley, McGill Redmen head coach
On September 26, McGill University said that 22-year-old business management student Luis-Andres Guimont-Mota should have never been invited to join the team because of a previous assault conviction in 2010 in Quebec City.
The university issued that statement after Guimont-Mota was charged with assault and uttering threats in connection with an incident involving his wife on September 24.
“That student should not have come to McGill University. We take full responsibility for this and we’ll inquire so that these types of things don’t happen in the future,” said McGill Deputy Provost Ollivier Dyens.
Guimont-Mota's lawyer, Steve Hanafi, said last week that his client is himself a victim of assault.
Hanafi said he believes McGill acted hastily in suspending his client in order to protect the university’s image without having all of the facts.
Teammate says coach a man of integrity
Former McGill player Gianni Settino says when he heard the Uttley was leaving, he thought the university was forcing him out.
'"It really showed me he's a man of character." - Gianni Settino, former McGill Redman
"When I saw it was on his own terms [...] that really surprised me," says Settino. "It really showed me he's a man of character, a man of integrity."
Settino was on the team from 2010 - 2012, during the time when Uttley was hired and Guimont-Mota was recruited. He says McGill knew of Guimont-Mota's conviction, and that the recent strongly-worded statement was an attempt to save face.
"We all kind of knew about his past, but we all welcomed him with open arms. We were ready to have him, as a team, give him a second chance."
Settino says current and former football players were appalled by the university's statement condemning Guimont-Mota.
"We kinda shared that article with each other and said 'there's no way any school should be saying that about one of its students.'"
McGill accepts the resignation
Dyens responded to Uttley’s resignation with a statement saying the university will not contest the coach’s decision.
“McGill accepts Coach Uttley’s resignation and thanks him for his dedication and service to McGill and the Redmen football team. The University maintains that the pedagogical mission of our institution takes precedence. We wish Mr. Uttley well in his future endeavours,” wrote Dyens.
Drew Love, Executive Director of McGill University Athletics and Recreation, said a new coach will be announced shortly.
“We will miss Coach Uttley on the field and would like to acknowledge the work he did on behalf of Redmen football and our athletics program,” Love said. “We expect to announce the appointment of an interim head coach from within our current staff in the next day or two.
Dyens also reiterated that the university has launched an “in-depth review of our rules and regulations governing participation in varsity sports to ensure that all rules and regulations are aligned with and reinforce transparent decision-making, accountability and commitment to the values that define the McGill learning environment.”
Previous conviction for assault
Guimont-Mota was in his third season with the Redmen and was considered the team's star running back.
Dyens told CBC News last week that he was shocked to learn that Guimont-Mota already had a previous criminal conviction.
Uttley knew about Guimont-Mota's record and he spoke about it openly when Guimont-Mota was recruited from Quebec City in August 2012.
"At the time of his arrival, the University tolerated and accepted his presence and then proceeded to celebrate his accomplishments thereafter," he said in the statement.
“I believe in rehabilitation. The student athlete accepted his conviction and did his punishment, a fact that was not hidden from the university."
Guimont-Mota was awarded the team's 2013 Dan Pronyk Memorial Trophy for most outstanding offensive player.
He has been released on bail and is scheduled to make another court appearance in February.