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U of T men's soccer team forfeits season


Jarrek

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U of T men's soccer team forfeits season after carrying ineligible player

posted October 30 @ 13:45, EST

HAMILTON (CP) - The University of Toronto Varsity Blues men's soccer team has forfeited the entire 2003 season for dressing an ineligible player, the Ontario University Athletics body announced Thursday.

Kouzmanis, a veteran U of T striker, was in violation of Rule 40.10.4.3.1 of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Eligibility Policies and Procedures, which states that an athlete is allowed to participate in CIS competition up to a maximum of five years.

In 2001, Kouzmanis was a member of the Toronto Olympians professional soccer team that competes in the summer months. He returned to the University of Toronto that fall and resumed his playing career with the Varsity Blues. CIS eligibility rule 40.10.6.2.1 states that "any professional athlete may participate in CIS competition one year from the date that the athlete last participated in a professional game."

Because of the violation, Kouzmanis was charged an additional year of eligibility, putting him at the maximum of five years. So when he took to the field this season he was in effect in his sixth year of competition.

"Tom is a former national team player, a terrific student leader and a tremendous ambassador for Varsity Blues soccer and the University of Toronto," said U of T athletic director Liz Hoffman. "While the result is regrettable, we are certain that it was never Tom's intention to compete beyond the maximum five years of eligibility.

"Tom has the utmost respect for intercollegiate athletics in Ontario."

The OUA will be reviewing the 2001 University of Toronto men's soccer season to determine if any further sanctions will be imposed on the university.

The CIS is also reviewing the situation and will determine what other sanctions, if any, will be imposed, above and beyond the OUA sanctions.

The Blues were to play in this weekend's OUA Final Four. The Waterloo Warriors, who lost 2-1 to the Blues last Sunday in quarter-final play, will replace Toronto in the final four championship.

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D'OH!!!

Looks like the CPSL's "professional" status strikes again. Crap! [}:)]

CIS rules 40.10.4.3.1 and 40.10.6.2.1? I think I can understand how they were overlooked. I don't even think FIFA has that many rules.

And to have to hand over a place to Waterloo of all schools! Only York would be worse. [V]

GO BLUES

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It's a common rule in the CIS, if it's believe you've played 'pro' then you have to sit a year or lose a year of eligibility. The definition of pro is the tricky part. Major Junior hockey (where you don't have to pay for skates, sticks, etc and you get free room and board and a per diem) isn't pro. Yet, the CPSL is? I believe it's the same if you transfer from NCAA to CIS, you have to sit a year.

I don't think knowing about the rule was the problem, rather Kousmanis didn't realize the CIS considered CPSL pro.

Sigma, why do you feel that way? Where I went to school five classes a semester was a full load and after four years of that I got my degree in the shortest time possible. It was virtually impossible to get a degree in four years unless you loaded up on intersession. I didn't know a student athlete who took a full load. When you're spending every second weekend in Vancouver or Calgary or Edmonton, it's tough to take that many classes. I think getting five years is fair, especially since most of those athletes will be going to school in their fifth year anyway, if not their sixth.

There should be something done about the junior football and then CIS football path. Guys who are 26 shouldn't still have years of CIS eligibility.

cheers,

matthew

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quote:Originally posted by Sigma

In my opinion college athletes should only be allowed to play for four years (NCAA and the CIS)

Hmm, I don't know about that. What is your reasoning?

I can understand from the point of view that you don't want athletes goofing around academically while playing sports (ie. sticking around year after year without finishing their degree/diploma). But some people will legitimately (ie. no goofing around) take a little longer to get a degree; I like that there is an extra year available for that in the CIS. But more importantly, what about athletes who want a post-graduate education? Why should they not be allowed to play? I think there should be a separate limit imposed on how long you can play at each level of schooling (so, for example, you're allowed five years at the undergraduate level, then more at the graduate level).

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quote:Originally posted by matthew

I don't think knowing about the rule was the problem, rather Kousmanis didn't realize the CIS considered CPSL pro.

You're probably right. (As I said, the CPSL strikes again!)

But the CIS and regional associations sure have tons of rules! When I was trying to figure out the OUA playoff schedule I had to study the OUA rules and regulations for quite a while before I figured out what they were trying to say! The U of T student newspaper misinterpreted them.

quote:Where I went to school five classes a semester was a full load and after four years of that I got my degree in the shortest time possible. It was virtually impossible to get a degree in four years unless you loaded up on intersession.
I took summer courses and still didn't finish in four years (though I was taking theoretical computer science, mathematics and logic and you wouldn't want to load up on too many of those courses at the same time!).

quote:I didn't know a student athlete who took a full load. When you're spending every second weekend in Vancouver or Calgary or Edmonton, it's tough to take that many classes. I think getting five years is fair, especially since most of those athletes will be going to school in their fifth year anyway, if not their sixth.
Good point, I hadn't thought of that.
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I think it all has to do with the type of contract signed. I suspect that Kouzmanis was on a professional contract. I know of several CPSL players on other OUA teams that are ok with their eligibility including ex-National team under-18 and under-20 Steven Flatt (London City & University of Waterloo). They would have signed amateur papers in the CPSL.

The point about Major Junior hockey is a very good one and should be raised by the university soccer coaches association with the OUA.

On a side note, soccer is a funny old game. With the exception of Trent and Ryerson almost every OUA game was close with lower ranking teams regularly beating nationally ranked teams every week. Even the 5-2 playoff win of Queens over Guelph was really a 2-2 game in the 70th minute when the Guelph sweeper was knocked out of the game with a concussion and broken eye socket.

Who would have thought that both last years CIS champions and runners up would not make it throught the first round of playoffs.

A Western-Waterloo final (with both qualifying for the CIS Championships) seemed impossible from almost the first week of the season.

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  • 2 weeks later...

From The Varsity (U of T student newspaper), November 11:

Soccer speaks out

Ineligibility an "honest mistake," says team captain

By Amanda Olson

It's been just over a week since an eligibility mistake cut short the men's soccer team's play-off dreams, and captain Rob Rupf is excited to get back to his homework.

"It was almost a pleasure coming back and doing school work as scary as that sounds," says Rupf.

Not so scary when you understand he and the rest of the team have been putting in long hours with the athletics department's administration since the OUA announced on Oct. 30 that the Blues had forfeited their whole season for fielding player Tom Kouzmanis.

It was discovered last month that in 2001 Kouzmanis broke CIS rules by playing for both the Blues and a professional club in the same year, and not waiting the one year period required between professional and amateur play. CIS rules required Kouzmanis be penalized a year of eligibility for his infraction. Now with his period of eligibility reduced from five to four years, Kouzmanis' 2003 season was effectively one over the limit. Bad news for the Blues, since all games he played would now be counted as losses and he played in them all.

The saga sparked local and national media interest, but this week some positive press came the men's soccer team's way. Rupf was named the North/West OUA MVP and selected for the division first tier all-star team. Other Blues who made the cut were George Davis, Michel D'Angelo, and Sean Meyers. Davis was also named the divisional rookie of the year, while head coach John Vidovich nabbed the North/West's coach of the year honours.

Rupf was also named a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) first string all-Canadian. But, though he says he appreciates the recognition, Rupf isn't revelling in his awards.

"It's an honour to be recognized by all the coaches within the OUA conference [who vote on the athlete selection]," explains Rupf, "but for me, the ultimate goal was to go to and win the nationals."

This year's team with its high level of talent and depth was capable of reaching that goal. "Our starting 11? We didn't have one. We had a starting 16," says Rupf, adding that "of the five years I've been here, this was the best team I've been associated with."

Rupf describes the team's reaction to the bad news the day they showed up for their last practice before the play-offs. Head of the soccer program Jim Lefkos, coach Vidovich, and Kouzmanis brought the team up to speed. The main feeling was frustration, Rupf says, from not knowing what was going on or what would happen. Then there was the element of pure shock. "It just sort of blind-sided us," he says.

Pierre Grossi, a four-year team vet, sums up his reaction simply: "it killed me."

"I had the same reaction as every guy on the team. I was devastated," Grossi adds. He explains how close he and his teammates had become in the short season-"this was our life for two or three months...I was close to tears. Some guys were in tears," he said.

Both Grossi and Rupf say the team isn't holding a grudge against Kouzmanis and have remained close, scrimmaging and going out pubbing as part of the healing process. "Everyone knows this was an honest mistake," says Rupf, re-iterating the team's solidarity. "We didn't cheat. If he [had thought] he was ineligible, bottom line, he wouldn't have played. Tommy is still a vital part of the team," Rupf says. Kouzmanis has been involved with the team for the past ten years as both a coach and player.

But while the events left the team feeling frustration and devastation in the short term, Grossi says since first finding out about the situation they've been working hard with the athletics administration to first try to appeal the ruling and then after that failed, to turn the situation around.

The scandal has motivated the program to turn words into actions. "This made us realize how special and how unique [the Blues soccer program] is," says Grossi. The team now plans to organize an alumni newsletter, increase fundraising events, head on a possible trip overseas, and host a high school tournament to aid in recruiting.

Meanwhile, the CIS continues its investigation. The unpleasant possibility of further sanctions for U of T from both the CIS and the OUA loom, but Rupf and Grossi stress the team is looking to the future. "We were devastated," says Grossi, "but we've taken those feelings and turned them into something positive."

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