Following the firing of a decorated Queen’s University track coach, his former student-athletes have banded together to create a petition calling for his reinstatement.
The petition was in support of Steve Boyd, who was let go earlier this week following comments he made on Facebook about the University of Guelph’s former track coach Dave Scott-Thomas.
Scott-Thomas was fired late last year following two allegations of sexual misconduct with his student-athletes spanning over a decade.
Boyd was let go, according to Queen’s, as a result of a “a pattern of objectionable social media commentary spanning several years, about which he had previously been formally cautioned.”
Despite Queen’s reasoning, many of his athletes believes his punishment didn’t fit the crime, so to speak.
“We feel that his firing was unjust,” said Matt Flood, third-year arts student and track team member. “It doesn’t fit what he actually said on Facebook, I think it’s too harsh for what he actually said.”
The roughly 30 members of the track team started the online petition Thursday. By Friday evening, the petition reached over 1,700 signatures, nearing its 2,500-signature goal.
Queen’s specifically took issue with comments Boyd made on Facebook asking former athletes about their role in the Scott-Thomas matter, and if they had any responsibility in recruiting young people into a potentially abusive situation.
“Boyd made numerous statements on social media berating and blaming student athletes who were themselves victims and which only served to re-traumatize them,” the Queen’s statement read.
Flood said he could understand why certain people felt uncomfortable with his statements, specifically Boyd’s allegations that the University of Guelph knew all along that Scott-Thomas was allegedly abusing his athletes. Boyd also suggested Guelph’s many track titles be “vacated.”
Flood added the alleged sexual abuse may not have been known but he thinks other allegations were well-established and known by the university.
“There was some emotional abuse things, like yelling at them, not talking to them if they did poorly in an event,” Flood said.
Both Flood and MacDougall say the many cross country and track members are considering their futures in light of Boyd’s firing.
“I know if Steve’s not reinstated I will not be returning to compete for Queen’s,” Brogan MacDougall, cross-country star and second-year geological engineering student, told Global News Friday.
“And honestly, I seriously, seriously doubt many of us will be returning to compete for Queens’.”
“Individually, I think individual athletes might decide not to run for Queens next year or might transfer,” Flood said.
Both students say they are going to present their petition to Queen’s, who so far have not answered any of their emails, in hopes to get Boyd reinstated.
Flood said he’s hopeful the petition will bring his coach back, but MacDougall has doubts.
“I want to keep being optimistic, but at the same time, I have to prepare myself for the worst scenario because I wasn’t prepared for this news. None of us were prepared for this news.”
Queen’s University would not comment any further on the subject Friday.