A former coach at the University of Regina was fired following allegations of inappropriate behaviour with female athletes.
Wade Huber was the head coach of the U of R Cougars cross-country and track teams.
The University of Regina told Global News in a statement that he was suspended in September 2022 and after an internal investigation, it was determined he had crossed several lines and his employment was terminated in October 2022.
Athletics Canada also initiated an investigation into the allegations relating to his conduct involving a number of female athletes he coached between March 2013 and July 2022.
“Athletics Canada requires that all Members and participants in the sport of athletics otherwise governed or sanctioned by Athletics Canada must adhere to and uphold the principles of Athlete Protection and the Prevention of Maltreatment and to conduct themselves with the highest level of ethical conduct which include fairness, dignity, courtesy, personal responsibility and accountability, honesty integrity, respect, and a doping-free sport,” Athletics Canada commissioner Hugh Fraser’s report, released on Sept. 14, said.
According to the report, a complaint was filed with the commissioner’s office on Oct. 17, 2022.
A total of six allegations were brought against the former coach.
One of the allegations involved “massaging female athletes at practice when experienced trainers were available to perform that task,” the report said.
Another allegation concerned the nature of relationships Huber had developed with four female athletes. He was said to be demonstrating preferential treatment toward this group of athletes.
“These athletes would have been teenagers and young adults at the time, and the evidence of text messages exchanged, late night lengthy phone calls, asking them to babysit his children, becoming close with their families and visiting their homes for meals clearly blurs the lines between what is acceptable in a coach/athlete relationship and what is not,” the report read.
Fraser said in the statement that “while there is no evidence that suggest Mr. Huber’s behaviour had involved sexual misconduct, Athletics Canada’s Code of Conduct and policy outlines the danger of such conduct with the following statement: ‘Grooming is often a slow, gradual and escalating process of building trust and comfort with a young person.’”
The report also says a whistleblower accused Huber of taking inappropriate photos of female athletes.
“This is a very serious allegation and would clearly amount to a violation of the 2021 Code of Conduct. The witness who discovered this photo did not harbour any resentment towards the respondent but was nevertheless upset about what she had inadvertently stumbled upon on his phone. I find on a balance of probabilities that Mr. Huber engaged in the conduct described in this allegation,” the summary read.
The report also talked about an allegation that involved a “consensual kiss between Huber and someone who had previously been a teammate.”
The allegation was dismissed because at that time Huber was not in a position of authority over that teammate and she had the “requisite capacity to consent,” the report said.
Two more allegations involving being intoxicated at the track facility were also dismissed.
“I am not satisfied on a balance of probability that he was in fact intoxicated while at practice. These two allegations of a breach of the Code of Conduct are not substantiated,” the report read.
The report says the former coach made some of the athletes uncomfortable with the inappropriate comments he made about the female athletes’ body parts as well as their clothing, including their bras.
The signed report determined that Huber’s conduct violated his responsibilities under the 2015 Athletics Canada Code of Conduct and Ethics, and constituted grooming, psychological maltreatment and sexual maltreatment under the 2021 Athletics Canada Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport.
Fraser also warned coaches to avoid crossing the line that exists between athletes and coaches.
“These findings should serve as another cautionary tale, about the risk that coaches run when they become too close to their athletes. One can be a caring, effective, and successful coach without crossing any boundaries,” the statement reads.