Hawks continue fight against forfeit

For the second straight week, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s football team will go into a crucial game against a nationally ranked team without truly knowing what their record is.

Last Saturday, the 3-2 (for now) Hawks defeated the Guelph Gryphons 36-2 while waiting to hear what the Canadian Interuniveristy Sport (CIS) ruling would be regarding the eligibility of defensive end David Montoya. That ruling came on Wednesday, and the 27-year-old Montoya was deemed ineligible for this season.

However, the Golden Hawks still find themselves in an unsure position as they prepare to take on the Ottawa Gee-Gees, as they have opted to appeal the CIS’s decision through the Sports Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC), and independent arbitrator.

“[With the CIS] you can’t argue for compassionate appeal [and] you can’t argue on the basis of the rule itself. So we looked at the merits of David’s case,” said Laurier athletics director Peter Baxter. “When we go to the SDRCC, we will challenge the rule as well as it’s implementation.”

The rule Baxter is referring to is a restriction that came into effect this past June, which stipulates that CIS football players must use their five years of eligibility within seven years of completing high school. Montoya used his first four years of eligibility between 2002 and 2005 before returning to WLU this fall for his fifth.

“In our view, David fits very clearly within a section of their policy, as an exception,” said Baxter. “[Last winter], We didn’t know and David didn’t know that the rule would change in June and that in order for him to play, he would have to be on the eligibility certificate for the 2009-10 season, there’s no way he would have known that.”

According to Baxter, Montoya initially registered in January, which would have put him on Laurier’s eligibility certificate for 2009-10, a requirement to play in 2011 under the new rule. However, Montoya, a high school teacher and football coach at Milton’s Bishop Reding was asked to differ his studies to the fall in order to give the school ample time to cover his coaching responsibilities.

Still under the old CIS rules, Montoya withdrew from Laurier to resume not only his classes in business administration, but also his role on Laurier’s football team in the fall.

However, after the Hawks’ week three win over the University of Toronto, the CIS began looking into Montoya’s eligibility, with the potential punishment being a forfeit of that win. Montoya didn’t dress for Laurier’s wins over York or Guelph, making them safe from becoming losses.

After the CIS ruled Montoya ineligible, Laurier’s appeal with SDRCC has allowed the Hawks to avoid a forfeit for now, however it also drags this issue out for at least another week.

“It’s been a distraction but it’s something we’re just going to have to get past,” said Laurier manager of football operations and head coach Gary Jeffries. “It’s cast some negativity and that negativity is real, [but] we can’t control what goes on in the boardroom, we can only control what goes on on the football field.”

According to Baxter, there is currently no timetable for the appeal with the SDRCC. This is because the CIS has, at this time, failed to provide Laurier with the rationale behind their decision.

“They just told us [the appeal was] denied, and said that the written reason would be forthcoming,” said Baxter. “I requested that they send it last night, because we have to review it as part of our submission to the SDRCC.”