U of S volleyball coach fired for recruiting player facing sexual assault charges

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WATCH ABOVE: The University of Saskatchewan has fired their men's volleyball coach after he recruited a player facing sexual assault charges. Ryan Flaherty reports – May 18, 2018

The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) has fired men’s volleyball coach Brian Gavlas following comments he made to the media about recruiting Matthew Meyer to the team.

At the time of his recruitment, Meyer had been charged with sexually assaulting a woman at a college party in Medicine Hat and taking 147 pictures of her while she was unconscious. Meyer has since been convicted and sentenced to two years in prison and three years’ probation.

While pushing for a provincial sexual assault strategy, justice critic Nicole Sarauer raised Gavlas’ comments in the legislative assembly.

READ MORE: Opposition calls for Sask. sexual assault strategy, government open to idea​

Advanced Education and Status for Women Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor condemned Gavlas’ comments, saying the coach said he was aware of the charges and thought that one bad decision shouldn’t determine the rest of an athlete’s life.

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“The comments by the coach are disturbing because they trivialize what happened to the victim and they have, I would say, overstated the impact on the perpetrator and that’s completely backwards and so obviously we still need to do some work to change this conversation,” Beaudry-Mellor said.

In her advanced education portfolio, Beaudry-Mellor tends to take a hands-off approach from the day-to-day operations of post-secondary institutions.

In this case, Beaudry-Mellor said she would like to see the University of Saskatchewan athletics community replicate some programs seen at the University of Regina. This includes the Man Up Against Violence campaign, which encourages male athletes to speak out against gender-based violence.

READ MORE: Report on university campus sexual violence calls for culture change

“We have to be careful that due process is upheld. I think that’s very important, but athletes have a particular stature in universities. Varsity sports have a particular stature and I think this is an example of where we need to be very careful about what kinds of behaviour we’re emulating in our post-secondary institutions and this is not acceptable,” Beaudry-Mellor said.

In a joint statement, U of S chief athletics director Shawn Burt and Kinesiology dean Chad London said all Huskies athletes are expected to follow their code of conduct, which states their conduct not only reflects the individual, but university as well.

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READ MORE: Liberals promise $5.5M to fund sex assault crisis centres at universities

The U of S will be launching a review of the recruitment and screening of student athletes, as well as the conduct of employees. The goal is to ensure everything meets code of conduct standards.

Sarauer said she was angry and upset when she first saw Gavlas’ comments in the press.

“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,” Saraue said.

“We need to ensure that our culture on campus is one that is not prioritizing sport over the safety of the students.”

The U of S statement said that the search for a replacement men’s volleyball coach will begin in the coming weeks. ​

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