The Ryerson men’s hockey team has been suspended, effective immediately, for seven days after a week-long investigation for violating Ryerson’s student-athlete code of conduct during a recent road trip to Princeton, N.J. on Oct. 18 and 19, Ryerson’s director of athletics, Ivan Joseph, announced.
Away for a two-game exhibition series vs. the Princeton Tigers, the team was reported to be drinking at its team hotel, which is against school policy.
“There were rules that we broke and we have to accept the punishment,” said Andrew Buck, the team’s captain. “What is done is done. It’s disappointing, but it’s something we’ll have to deal with.”
As a result of the suspension, the hockey team will forfeit its upcoming games this week at UOIT and at Queen’s University.
“We’re going to take this punishment in stride,” said third-year defenceman Brian Birkhoff. “We’re determined to come back and kick the crap out of every team that comes in our way from next Monday until the end of the season.”
Head coach Graham Wise has also received a four-game suspension, while assistant coach Lawrence Smith has been relieved of his duties. Joseph said he won’t provide more details on Smith’s exit from the team because it’s a human resources matter and it would go against policy to reveal more information.
Wise refused to comment when asked about the suspension.
Players and team personnel will not be allowed to use any of the university’s athletic facilities during the suspension. The team is not allowed to enter the Mattamy Athletic Centre unless members are working or studying there. They can’t use the weight room, equipment, dressing room or any other facilities related to athletics, Joseph said.
Joseph said coaches were not present at the time of the drinking, as they were in a meeting analyzing video footage of the team. Hotel management found out about the drinking after noise violations and disruptions caused them to intervene. The coaches were alerted to the incident the next morning.
“I’m disappointed that they have chosen to do this, which takes the light and shine off of what they’ve done on the ice,” Joseph said.
The seven-day suspension will derail the team’s 5-2 start to this season as it will have to accept two losses for games missed during the suspension.
Under a section that deals with athletes’ behaviour, the Ryerson Rams student-athlete handbook states: “Alcohol may not be consumed by Rams athletes or staff for the duration of road trips (from the time of departure until the time of arrival back in Toronto).”
“When you are an athlete, you accept the terms and conditions of responsibility,” said Sheldon Levy, Ryerson president, who accepted the recommendation for the suspension. “I always trust the students [but] this is something very, very different.”
This marks the second time during Joseph’s tenure that a team has received a suspension. The women’s volleyball team was also suspended for seven days in 2009 for a similar offence.
“One has to put everything in perspective. This isn’t the first time,” Levy said. “[When] something like this has happened and you go back, and see improvements…you’re the biggest cheerleader again for the team.”