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U Sports says ‘we may never know’ if Archelaus Jack was eligible or ineligible to play for Saint Mary’s Huskies

Archelaus Jack kneels on the sidelines of Tuesday's Loney Bowl game. Cory McGraw/Global News

The 2017 Loney Bowl is over but the controversy surrounding a member of the Saint Mary’s Huskies football team continues.

The CEO of U Sports – the national governing body of university sport in Canada – says we may never know if Archelaus Jack was eligible or ineligible to play for SMU this year, despite the fact a tribunal has already reached a decision on the matter.

READ: Halifax school in court to contest AUS decision to cancel football’s Loney Bowl

Jack was previously on the practice roster for the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders – but is now a student at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.

Concerns have been raised by other universities about whether or not enough time has passed for him to play at the university level. That’s because the rules state that if a player is affiliated with a CFL team or listed on a team’s practice roster until Aug. 15 of that year, they must wait 365 days before playing for a university team.

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Jack was released from the Roughriders on Oct. 11, 2016 but has played for SMU throughout this season, including several games before Oct. 11, 2017.

The eligibility concerns eventually led to Atlantic University Sport (AUS) cancelling the Loney Bowl — before a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge granted a temporary injunction and the game was reinstated and played on Tuesday.

The Huskies ultimately lost to the Acadia Axemen in the championship game 45-38 in overtime.

“At the current time there’s still discussions before the courts in Ontario. So essentially, right now, he’s eligible to play,” said CEO Graham Brown.

“While this matter remains in the courts, this player remains eligible.”

WATCH: Acadia Axemen win 2017 Loney Bowl, set to host Western on Saturday

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Acadia Axemen win 2017 Loney Bowl – Nov 14, 2017

In an interview Thursday with Global News, Brown says the organization was originally alerted to an issue of eligibility through an anonymous phone complaint in October.

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“We didn’t feel that at that particular time, based on a phone conversation, that we had enough information,” said Brown.

“We were served with court papers the minute we sent a letter to Saint Mary’s and at that particular time we just looked at it and said if a member wants to pursue it, we’ll pursue it but we’re not going to pursue it at this particular time.”

Brown says U Sports spoke to Saint Mary’s after receiving the phone call about Jack’s eligibility.

“We went to Saint Mary’s and they told us they don’t believe this player was ineligible, etc. etc. and when the president of a university gets involved, I would suggest the person who should be or likely the gatekeeper of the institution, if the president is telling us that, we looked at it and with the information we had speaking with the president, we weren’t prepared to pursue it.”

U Sports chose not to pursue anything following the original anonymous phone call.

Brown says they did tell Saint Mary’s that if a member of the organization wanted to pursue the issue, they would.

READ: AUS cancels Loney Bowl after Saint Mary’s University eligibility controversy, Acadia advances

Two days later, a formal complaint was filed by four members of U Sports (other universities) who came forward with what Brown describes as “significantly more information”.

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Saint Mary’s University say they had a ‘binding agreement’ with U Sports that allows Jack to play – however Brown says that’s not the case.

“The whole crux of the debate and why we’re in court with the injunction is that Saint Mary’s thinks it’s a unilateral, unequivocal, agreement that we will not pursue the case and that the player is in fact eligible and nobody else can pursue it now. We disagree with that but it’s within the courts and the courts are ultimately going to decide,” he said.

WATCH: On Sunday, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge sided with Saint Mary’s and granted the university an interim injunction, which allows the Loney Bowl to be reinstated. 

Click to play video: 'Loney Bowl now scheduled to take place Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Acadia University' Loney Bowl now scheduled to take place Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Acadia University
Loney Bowl now scheduled to take place Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Acadia University – Nov 12, 2017

The case is now before the Ontario Superior Court.

The judge will not be determining whether or not Jack is eligible – but rather if U Sports is able to have a tribunal to establish Jack’s eligibility.

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A tribunal – made up of four members of U Sports – has already looked at the issue and has a decision on Jack’s eligibility, however whether or not the results will be made public remains uncertain.

If an Ontario judge determines U Sports is able to establish a tribunal on the eligibility issue – the results will be released. If the courts decide otherwise, the results of that tribunal will remain sealed and the matter will be officially closed.

“No one knows the answer with the exception of the four people who deliberated,” said Brown.

“The ultimate thing is we may never know if the player was eligible or ineligible formally which is unfortunate. It’s unfortunate that Saint Mary’s wouldn’t want to know if that player was eligible or ineligible.”

READ MORE: St. FX says questions still linger following court’s decision to reinstate Loney Bowl

Brown says U Sports believes the rules are quite clear.

“Our members apply the rules in a consistent basis all the time and Saint Mary’s has taken an alternative view to that. In our perspective, the player should have sat out 365 days, therefore played during a window in which he would have been deemed ineligible,” he said.

“But we don’t know that because it hasn’t actually been tested in the tribunal and we’ll have to wait and see what the courts say in order to allow us to pursue it further.”

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Illegal or not? Head-to-head collisions in sports – Sep 29, 2017

Brown would not speculate what options may be available if the results of the tribunal determined Jack was ineligible – or how that may impact a university football season that is now over.

“I have no idea. That would ultimately be the recommendation of the tribunal. I have no idea what their level of sanction would may be, might be or could be,” he said.

Regardless of the outcome, Brown says Jack won’t be on the football field next year.

“Obviously, you get to this point in the game and it’s a bit of a moot point because the player’s not eligible for competition anymore because he’s too old so he can’t play U Sports football next year and his season this year is done.”

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