Baseball appeal gains ground

(Photo by Elli Garlin)

In light of last week’s accusations by members of the Wilfrid Laurier men’s baseball community against the university, the school is currently following the procedure for the appeal process to move along with the allegations.

As of Monday afternoon, the university had not heard directly from the team’s players or coaches on whether or not they support the request sent in last Tuesday by Fran Smyth, the mother of a player and a professor at Seneca College.

However, Kevin Crowley, director of communications and affairs at Laurier, confirmed to The Cord Tuesday that “slightly less than half” of the players had been in contact with the university and a portion of the players support the request.

“I just checked with [university secretary & general counsel] Shereen Rowe with where we were in getting in touch with the students. That was the piece that was missing,” he said Tuesday.

“A number of [players] have said that they do support the notice for appeal Ms. Smyth has submitted.”

The request from Smyth included an investigation into the treatment of the players during the temporary suspension given to the team following a rookie party that included drinking and “hazing activities.”

According to Crowley, because the request for an appeal has come after the suspension’s process and the end of the team’s season, the university must go back and investigate the initial situation.

“We’re looking at the hearing process under the Student Athlete Code of Conduct; just to see where we are in it because it’s not that straight forward,” he said.

“The request is for an appeal, but the process doesn’t provide the opportunity for an appeal until a committee of inquiry has been struck, and that committee’s done its job of reviewing the facts and figures and talking to people. It’s at that point that an appeal can be requested of the decision.”

If any player disagrees with what the inquiry finds  then an appeal can be made.

“Our obligations are to the players,” Crowley said in an interview Monday, emphasizing that the process is “about the players and not the mother.”

“We want to make sure that the players feel that they have been heard in a fair and transparent way.”

Crowley also mentioned the “downplay” of the hazing activity that took place in September with the baseball team.

He said that in recent news stories regarding the request for an appeal, the hazing activity has been left out.

“It is unfortunate that the incident that led to this situation – a rookie party that violated Laurier’s Student Athlete Code of Conduct – is now being clouded over by these subsequence allegations against the university.”

As of Tuesday, the university has been in contact with Smyth and is looking to move forward with the process. However, because of the nature of the request, the process may need to be adjusted.

According to the student athlete code of conduct, an appeal must be requested after the committee of inquiry submits a report with its findings.

However, typically the request for an inquiry is made during the initial suspension. Since the team is now looking at how the process was “handled” in September, the procedure needs to be worked out between the university and the team.

“At what point do we enter that process and, given that the request is for an appeal, that’s what makes things a little less than straight forward,” Crowley said.

There has been no set timeline for the ensuing procedure, but Crowley believes all parties will want to have an agreeable solution as soon as possible, especially one suitable for the students.

“The university’s committed to hearing the players’ concerns,” Crowley said. “We want to make sure it’s done in a fair and transparent way.”

However, he emphasized that the activity was punishable under the code of conduct and the suspension was laid properly.

“I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that a hazing activity did indeed take place,” Crowley said. “The players were made aware of the issues and allegations. They acknowledged that their behaviours violated the student athlete code of conduct.”

Laurier’s athletic director Peter Baxter and baseball head coach Scott Ballantyne both declined to comment on the matter.

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