University of Waterloo football players are looking to transfer elsewhere after a last-ditch attempt to save their suspended team's 2010 season failed to sway administration officials.
A 1 p.m. Friday deadline for reinstatement set by the players came and went with no change, and school spokesman Michael Strickland said, "The university has no plans to issue a response."
Defensive back Patrick McGarry, quarterback Luke Balch and receiver Dustin Zender made an emotional plea during a news conference Thursday for the team — suspended Monday after drug tests revealed infractions in nine of the club's 62 players — to be allowed to play under probation.
The players also offered to submit to random testing throughout the year, sign code of conduct agreements and speak to the dangers of steroids in the Waterloo community.
But the punishment stood.
"The decision we announced Monday was difficult but principled," Strickland said via email. "We remain committed to our student-athletes and plan to return the football team to competitive play the following year."
McGarry said the players were told late Thursday night that the university wasn't planning to change its mind, and was at the Canada's Wonderland amusement park north of Toronto with some teammates looking to blow off steam.
'We did all we could'
"We did all we could and that's something Luke, Dustin and myself are proud of," he said via email. "In football our coaches always talk about leaving it all on the field, and we truly felt we did so at the press conference" Thursday.
The deadline of Friday afternoon was set to give players with a chance to transfer as much time as possible to find another team.
McGarry has been speaking with coaches at St. Francis-Xavier University in Nova Scotia all week and planned to meet with the coaches at Wilfrid Laurier University, in Kitchener-Waterloo, on Saturday.
Carl Zender, who resigned as the Warriors receivers coach last week to lead the players' appeal, said Thursday half the team was considering transferring, and that 13 of the squad's 38 recruits had already gone elsewhere.
Canadian Interuniversity Sport said Wednesday that Warriors players who transfer out won't face the mandatory year of ineligibility, given the extraordinary nature of their situation.
The Waterloo football program was thrown into disarray when one of its players, Nathan Zettler, was arrested and charged in late April with possession of steroids for the purpose of trafficking.
The entire team later agreed to testing in order to clear its name, and felt betrayed by the school when the squad was suspended for one season.
Aside from suspending the team, the university is also conducting an internal review of the program.
"This is tough, a hard thing to swallow, to understand why the university believes this is the right decision to make," Balch said Thursday. "Punishing the innocent is not the correct move and it's simply not fair."