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Huskies coach fired after reports he knew of sexual assault charge against recruit
Published Thursday, May 17, 2018 5:38PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, May 17, 2018 7:12PM CST
Huskies men’s volleyball coach Brian Gavlas has been fired following reports he was aware of a sexual assault charge faced by a player when the University of Saskatchewan team recruited the student athlete.
The university informed media of Gavlas’s firing Thursday afternoon, three days after the player, Matthew Meyer, pleaded guilty and two days after Gavlas told the Prince Albert Daily Herald he knew of the allegations.
“The situation raised significant concerns as to how the player was allowed to become a Huskie athlete,” read a statement from the university, attributed to Huskie Athletics chief athletics officer Shawn Burt and College of Kinesiology dean Chad London.
“We took immediate steps to investigate and take appropriate action.”
Meyer, who pleaded guilty in Medicine Hat’s Court of Queen’s Bench to sexual assault and to photographing the victim during the assault, was removed from the roster as soon as the conviction was brought to the attention of Huskie Athletics, according to the statement. Gavlas was fired Thursday.
“All Huskie athletes are expected to follow the Huskie Code of Conduct which explicitly states that their personal conduct reflects upon not only themselves, but the athletics program and the university. We also have high expectations of our leaders and expect them to be accountable in their roles.”
Meyer was sentenced to two years in prison and three years probation.
The offence occurred in January 2016, when Meyer was 18 and played with the Medicine Hat College Rattlers. He joined the Huskies this season, playing in 14 games.
Gavlas was aware of the allegation, according to his statement to the Prince Albert Daily Herald, but he said he and Meyer “didn’t go into a lot of detail” about the matter.
He did not comment on Meyer’s guilty plea, but outlined for the newspaper his thought process in recruiting Meyer.
Saskatchewan’s Advanced Education Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor said Thursday, prior to the coach’s firing, his comments were “disturbing.”
“I think the comments by the coach are disturbing because they trivialize what happened to the victim and they, I would say, have overstated the impact on the perpetrator,” Beaudry-Mellor told media following the legislative assembly.
The minister stood during the legislative assembly to condemn what Gavlas said, even quoting some of his comments.
“The young man in question was charged with the sexual assault of an unconscious woman, and took 147 photos of her,” Beaudry-Mellor told the assembly.
“Now, due process is important, but the coach’s comments bear repeating in this house, Mr. Speaker. He said, and I quote, ‘Nowhere along the lines did we take anything that had happened in the past into account with his involvement in our team. From my perspective as a coach and as a father, I thought being involved with our team and our program would be best at this particular stage of his life,’ and then goes on to say that the individual ‘made a very bad choice and decision with his actions and what he did for one night, and it cost him dearly.’”
She questioned the team’s move to recruit Meyer knowing of the charge.
“Those were very, very serious charges, and at the very minimum, you should hold off on recruiting an athlete until you find out whether or not those charges will be upheld. I think that’s important given the stature of varsity athletics,” she said after the assembly.
Her comments were backed by the Opposition NDP’s justice critic, Nicole Sarauer.
“I think the university needs to take a hard look at this. This kind of language should not be tolerated. This attitude should not be tolerated at all. We need to ensure that our culture and campus is one that is not prioritizing sport over the safety of the students,” Sarauer told reporters at the legislature.
Gavlas did not respond to a request from CTV News for comment.
The university stated it will be reviewing the processes for screening and recruiting student athletes, as well as the policies regarding employee conduct.
The search for a new head coach will begin in the coming weeks, according to the university.