By: Natalie Stoberman
The book has been thrown at Ryerson University’s men’s hockey team for violating the student-athlete drinking policy while on the road for a pair of exhibition games.
The University announced the squad’s one week suspension in a press release on Monday. As a result of their suspension, the Rams will be forfeiting two games. They won’t be back on the ice until Nov. 15 against the Royal Military College.
The team’s coaches were also punished. Head coach Graham Wise has been suspended for four games and part-time assistant coach Lawrence Smith has been fired by the university, according to Ryerson’s media release.
According to Ryerson’s student-athlete handbook, athletes are not allowed to drink at any time during road trips and each student-athlete “is responsible for his or her own behaviour at formal and informal, scheduled and unscheduled events.”
Humber Athletics and the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association also have no-alcohol policies. Manager of sport information at Humber and OCAA President Jim Bialek said each institution monitors their own school’s code of conduct. The OCAA mainly governs provincial championship events.
“Alcohol has been taken away from all social areas of a championship,” said Bialek about the OCAA’s mandate. “Until 2012, there was beer and alcohol available to coaches at their hospitality suites at host hotels.”
Since then the OCAA has been dry.
Bialek also said both Humber and the OCAA make it a priority to be consistent with the message they’re sending. “If we don’t allow the athletes to drink then we shouldn’t allow the coaches to drink.”
Humber’s student-athletes are well aware that alcohol is to be kept separate from their athletics.
Carley Uden, kinesiology student at the University of Guelph-Humber and athlete on the volleyball and rugby teams, said her team’s rules are very straightforward but coaches trust the players will make the right decisions.
“It is our responsibility as student-athletes to be smart with our choices and to follow the rules,” Uden said.
Road trips are a large part of varsity seasons.
“When you’re representing the school there’s no alcohol allowed,” Bialek said. “From the moment an athlete gets on the bus to when they get home.”
But is a week-long suspension the right punishment for a violation?
“I think that since the Ryerson student-athlete handbook stated the parameters of drinking quite clearly that the suspension of the team would have been adequate punishment,” Uden said.
However, Bialek said suspensions can help teams learn from their mistakes.
“This has put them in a position not to make the playoffs,” Bialek explained. “If you know your conduct is going to put you in a position to fail you’re going to think twice next time.”