Dalhousie University has been sanctioned by Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) for infractions related to unauthorized athletic financial awards for its men’s hockey team. The sanctions, for activities that occurred between 2009-10 and 2011-12, include fines totaling $7,000 and a two-year probation period, and Dalhousie will provide educational documents to fellow CIS members around best practices for athletic financial awards.
In the fall of 2012, Dalhousie discovered and self-disclosed to CIS a series of suspicious athletic financial awards activities. Subsequently, CIS embarked on its own investigation, confirming the details of Dalhousie’s disclosure. Dalhousie has fully cooperated with the CIS investigation, and acknowledges the appropriateness of the formal charge and violation.
The sanctions relate to payments to six varsity men’s hockey student-athletes in contravention of CIS Athletic Financial Awards Policy. In the majority of cases, these unauthorized payments exceeded the maximum awards value a student-athlete can receive in a single year (tuition and compulsory fees). In 2009-10, the team also exceeded the maximum total amount of student athletic awards permitted by CIS.
Eight of the nine separate infractions were attributed primarily to the actions of the former team coach. However, CIS also cited an environment of inadequate institutional controls and policies within Dalhousie Athletics related to cash management and payroll as an enabling factor. A ninth Athletic Financial Awards Policy infraction was due to inadvertent administrative error on the part of the university, when money was applied to a student-athlete’s awards without confirmation of their enrolment in a course.
Dalhousie has been fined $5,000 for the main set of infractions as well as $2,000 for the infraction caused by administrative error. The university will cover legal and other administrative costs related to the CIS investigation (approx. $3,450) and is placed under probation for two years (one year having already been served in 2013-14). Dalhousie is also required to provide written “lessons learned” for the benefit of other CIS institutions and make an accompanying presentation at a subsequent CIS AGM.
Dalhousie recognizes it should have been more diligent regarding the administration of financial awards for the men’s hockey program. The university is committed to the highest ethical standards in the administration of its varsity programs, which is why it reported the infractions to CIS immediately upon their discovery. Dalhousie subsequently completed an extensive internal investigation, finding no other infractions related to athletic financial awards in men’s hockey or any other varsity program.
The university has also implemented a series of response measures and business controls to ensure this sort of infraction does not occur in the future. These include:
- An annual auditing process for Dalhousie Athletics managed by the Office of the Vice-President Student Services;
- Extensive finance and administrative review in Athletics, resulting in process, policy and administrative improvements;
- The creation of a new Finance and Administration Manager position for Athletics with a direct report to the Office of the Vice President Student Services.
- Training program for all leadership roles (including coaches) in Athletics, along with extensive payroll training for all Athletics staff and enhanced communication with student athletes and coaches about their responsibilities related to awards;
- Varsity coaches no longer authorized to manage cash;
- Budget enhancements to increase transparency for coaches regarding team operating costs.
CIS and Dalhousie thank one another for their cooperation in this investigation, and look forward to continuing to work together to support an environment that allows student-athletes to succeed to their fullest potential, on and off their respective fields of play.
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