The University of Ottawa’s men’s hockey team was suspended for the entire 2014-15 season because of widespread "disreputable" behaviour, not just in response to an alleged sexual assault, according to school president Allan Rock.

In a letter to the Globe and Mail this week, Rock responded to criticism regarding the team’s suspension for a year.

"Our critics assume that the sole reason for suspending the program is that the two players were first suspected of and then charged with sexual assault," Rock wrote in response to an editorial in the newspaper.

"In fact, the suspension for the entire 2014-15 season was imposed only after we received an independent report about what occurred during a team road trip to Thunder Bay (Ont.). It disclosed widespread behaviour that was disreputable and unbecoming of representatives of uOttawa and suggested an unhealthy climate surrounding the team. We needed a time-out to change that climate."

A group of players has considered launching a defamation lawsuit, claiming they were "thrown under the bus," despite not being involved in any illegal action.

Lawyer Lawrence Greenspon said the reputation of his clients have been tarnished by the university's response to the alleged incident.

Suspension a chance to 'pause and regroup'

David Foucher Guillaume Donovan U of O hockey players charged

David Foucher, left, and Guillaume Donovan, right, each faces a charge of sexual assault after an incident in Thunder Bay, Ont., in February while they were playing on the University of Ottawa men's hockey team. (Geegees.ca men's hockey roster)

The men’s team's head coach, Réal Paiement, was also fired after the university received the report.

"When a team’s leadership falters and its behaviour embarrasses the university community, it is time to pause and regroup. That’s what we are doing at the University of Ottawa," Rock also wrote in the letter.

Guillaume Donovan, 24. and David Foucher, 25, who played on the Ottawa team at the time of the road trip, were charged with sexual assault last week in connection with an incident involving a 21-year-old woman in Thunder Bay.

Their next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 30 in Thunder Bay.