University of Regina men's basketball team rostered ineligible player
Team forfeited 8 preseason games, regular season record was not affected
The University of Regina men's basketball team announced Monday it had to forfeit eight preseason games after it violated the rules by playing an ineligible athlete.
The development is reminiscent of earlier this year when the Regina Rams football team was forced to forfeit three wins because of a player's ineligibility. That forfeiture dropped the Rams to last place in the Canada West standings.
The football violation and significant loss prompted the university to review all of its student athletes who play on U SPORTS teams.
The school discovered an issue with one of the players on its basketball team in mid-October amid the review.
"This was an interpretation issue," said Lisa Robertson, Director of Sport, Community Engagement and Athlete Development for the U of R.
She said the university first believed the athlete was eligible to play, but upon review realized the regulatory body might disagree.
"We misinterpreted it," she said, adding the university disclosed the matter to U SPORTS shortly after the discovery.
Robertson said it was human error that led to the Rams violation, but called this case more complicated. She said it took U SPORTS, the governing body for Canadian university athletics, one week to decide whether the athlete was eligible.
It determined the player was not.
Robertson said the player was benched, which protected the basketball team's 7-3 record in the Canada West season.
He was soon back in the game after being granted eligibility due to a "compassionate appeal" to U SPORTS, which allowed the player relief from standing policies.
Robertson wouldn't speak to the specific complexities of this athlete's eligibility and only said this was an academic issue.
Robertson said she does not see the forfeiture as a black mark on the athletic department's reputation.
"I see it as something we can grow from. We've struggled and we'll emerge, and at the end of the day these are the life lessons we are trying to emulate for these student athletes," she said.
"It could have been a lot worse."
Today’s shoot. <a href="https://t.co/frXFih0LaL">pic.twitter.com/frXFih0LaL</a>—@cougsmbb
Robertson suggested the issues around eligibility have become more complex as athletes are recruited from across the country and globe.
"It's a little bit a sign of the times in how broadly we're recruiting that some of these issues are coming up because of the complexity of trying to sort through very, very complex transcripts of these students."
Robertson said the internal audit review of current players and systems is complete.
"We've looked at our systems to see where there may be some deficiencies and where there are we will address them."
She did not specify what will change to prevent something like this from happening again.
"The audit document is with our executive leadership team and our governance team and they'll decide of in terms of ultimately how we'll move forward with that."