Nova Scotia

AUS playoff schedule up in the air over player eligibility investigation

The Saint Mary's Huskies are scheduled to play in the conference football championships on Saturday, but an investigation into player eligibility could mean another team would square off against the Acadia Axemen.

Controversy involves SMU player who was on Saskatchewan Roughriders practice squad last year

The Saint Mary's Huskies in action against the Acadia Axemen earlier this season. (Nick Pearce)

The Saint Mary's Huskies are scheduled to play in the conference football championships on Saturday, but an investigation into player eligibility could mean another team would square off against the Acadia Axemen.

U Sports, the national governing body of university sport in Canada, informed Atlantic University Sport (AUS) officials on Friday of its investigation into wide receiver Archelaus Jack.

The issue relates to the CFL rule, which dictates that any former CFL player, or a player who remains on a CFL team's practice roster after Aug. 15,  has to wait one year before playing for a Canadian university team.

On Oct. 11, 2016, the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders released Jack from their practice squad. Jack has played in every Saint Mary's game this season. Prior to Oct. 11, 2017, he played in five games for the Huskies this season.

"If the alleged violation was determined to be a real violation, then it would likely be ruled a forfeit of the games that the individual played in," said Phil Currie, the executive director of AUS.

With the AUS currently in the middle of the playoffs, Currie said he's pushing U Sports to make a decision as quickly as possible.

Decision needed before Saturday's championship

U Sports could not say when that might happen.

"We're aware of the issue and unable to comment until there has been a full and final resolution," said Ken Saint-Eloy, the senior manager of communications for U Sports.

If the Huskies are found to be in violation and lose the games in question by forfeit, their record would go from 5-3 to 1-7.

That would put them in last place in the conference, so they wouldn't qualify for the playoffs.

James Colzie III, head coach of the Saint Mary’s University Huskies, did not respond to requests from CBC News for comment. (CBC)

The team already forfeited a game on Aug. 25 when they played with another ineligible player.

And the Huskies have already completed their first playoff game at home against St. FX last Saturday, beating the X-Men 16-15. Jack, who led the AUS in receptions in the regular season, scored a key fourth-quarter touchdown.

Right now, SMU is scheduled to play Saturday against Acadia in Wolfville, N.S.

"If forfeit is required, then we would be in a position where we would have to adjust accordingly," said Currie.

"That would mean Saint Mary's would have had no right being in that game on Saturday and you would have to concede to the team that they competed against, so in this case St. FX would advance."

Coaches aren't talking

St. FX coach Gary Waterman declined to comment until the investigation renders a decision.

Mount Allison coach Scott Brady, whose team would have had a better record than Saint Mary's if they are forced to forfeit the games, also declined comment.

Phone calls and emails to Saint Mary's coach James Colzie lll and the university's public relations department have not been returned.

About the Author

Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across the province for 30 years.