The impact of ineligibility

File Photo by Heather Davdison

File Photo by Heather Davdison

On Sept. 10, the Queen’s Golden Gaels football team announced they would be forced to forfeit their first two games of the season due to playing an academically ineligible player.

The fact that this went under the radar for two games into the season is unsettling to the reputation of Queen’s, and places an enormous burden on a student athlete.

The player, third-year defensive back Brendan Morgan, was ineligible due to the number of passing credits he received during the 2013-14 academic year.

That means his grades were most likely finalized in April or May, he trained the entire summer, attended training camp in late August and paid tuition.

All of this was under the assumption that he was playing varsity football for Queen’s in the fall.

Now that the situation has been brought to light, Morgan will miss the rest of the season, but will still be allowed to practice and train with the club.

Morgan issued a statement last Thursday, explaining he was “devastated” by the situation and he accepts responsibility for the forfeit in the home opener.

Canadian Interuniversity Sport dictates that each player must pass 18 hours worth of credits between playing season.

Apparently, Morgan slipped through the cracks because he “wasn’t on the academic probations list.” In other words, he had not ran into any issues in the past so he was not looked into in this instance.

Morgan reportedly misunderstood the requirements and was unaware that he was ineligible. Regardless of whether or not that is true, the concerning part is not that Morgan played anyway, but rather that the situation was looked over by the entire athletics department.

Their sole responsibility is to ensure the stability of a player’s academic and athletic future. In this case, Morgan’s school failed him on both of those levels.

Essentially, what this situation does is place the blame of having to forfeit a home-opening victory on a young student athlete.

Irrespective of the fact that Queen’s is standing by their player and admits it was their fault in not identifying this sooner, the fact still remains some will still point the finger to Morgan simply because someone did not check how many hours he was in class.

Furthermore, this is Morgan’s Canadian Football League draft eligibility year.

Even though a team theoretically could select him, they will most likely steer clear due to the amount of bad press he has received.

The entire Queen’s football club, who currently sits at 0-3, now suffers because of a mistake by their athletics department.

The department may or may not have known that Morgan was ineligible, but the result moving forward will be the same. They will be forced to put procedures in place to make sure it does not happen again.

The message to other university athletic departments across the country is now clear: academically ineligible players are not something that can be taken lightly. They have consequences on a team’s record, reputation and morale.

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