The University of Saskatchewan is putting its athlete recruitment process under the microscope after a men’s volleyball player spent two years at the school while facing sexual assault charges.
Head coach Brian Gavlas was fired on Thursday after an internal investigation confirmed he was aware of the charges against Matthew Meyer when he invited the player to join the Huskies and did not disclose that information to Huskie Athletics.
Meyer was charged with sexual assault and recording the assault following an incident that took place in January 2016 while he was attending Medicine Hat College in Alberta. He was subsequently released on bail and returned home to Prince Albert, Sask.
Meyer was recruited by Gavlas shortly thereafter and joined the team prior to the start of the 2016-17 season. He was not eligible to play for the Huskies until the 2017-18 season, during which he saw action in 15 games.
On Monday, Meyer pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced to two years in jail and three years probation. Huskie Athletics officials first learned of Meyer’s legal situation on Tuesday when they were contacted by a member of the media.
WATCH: U of S volleyball coach fired for recruiting player facing sexual assault charges
“We had no idea that this situation was going on. The prior administration had no idea. This really caught us off-guard to say the least,” said Shawn Burt, Chief Athletics Officer for Huskie Athletics.
The lack of internal communication will be a key focus of the university’s review, which will also examine how athletes are screened and the eligibility requirements for becoming a Huskie.
“There are several layers to recruiting that happens involving coaches, involving assistant coaches, involving staff within Huskie Athletics. It’s a complex phenomenon but it’s also a process that you can put checks and balances into and processes to make sure we are doing our due diligence,” Dean of Kinesiology Chad London said.
Burt said it’s clear there are improvements to be made to the current system.
“We’re always looking to do better and this situation certainly highlights that we will be doing better going forward.”
In addition to firing Gavlas, the university has launched disciplinary proceedings against Meyer for violating the Huskie Athletics Code of Conduct.
“We expect that the behaviour of all of our incoming and continuing athletes be impeccable. They have to be held to a higher standard. They represent themselves, their team, Huskie Athletics and the university,” London said.
In the meantime a search is underway for a new men’s volleyball coach to replace Gavlas.
London said both the recruiting review and the coaching search will be completed promptly, however no firm deadlines have been established.