Football: Laval adds safety from NFL Europe; alarm bells go off

University and amateur sports are not one and the same.

The Vanier Cup runner-up Western Mustangs are attempting to add running back Da'Shawn Thomas, who was the Toronto Argonauts' practice squad this season and last. It has touched off a lively debate on the dot-org.

The Vanier champ, Laval, has safety Daniel Schober, a NFL Europe veteran from Germany, in its camp. Schober, who is 6-foot-3, 215 lbs. or so, spent two seasons with the defunct NFLEL's Cologne Centurions as an allocation player. Schober, who's in his mid-20s, would have three years of eligibility, if you go by the same policy that is used in men's hockey. (A player is docked one year eligibility for every professional season he played after his 21st birthday.)

There is no intent to single out either team or the coaches, the Mustangs' Greg Marshall and the Rouge et Or's Glen Constantin. Please keep in mind that Canadian university sports have always been fluid with regard to defining eligibility, perhaps too much so for many tastes, but that's what is. It is not the same as the very strict NCAA.

Common sense, though, dictates adding a player who has two years' pro experience will not sit well with a lot of fans. It strains credulity to have a 20-something from the U.S. and Europe lining up against a 19-year-old.

It is on the highers-up to really define who should be playing in their leagues and make sure it is a level playing field. The counter-argument from Marshall's perspective is that Laval has a huge advantage (real or imagined) over an OUA school, so adding Thomas is a necessity.

Meantime, a 24-year-old from NFL Europe? A 22-year-old from the CFL? Even those who see nothing amiss with a Canadian citizen spending a few weeks on a CFL practice roster and returning to school are bound to cock an eyebrow.

Daniel Schober débarque (Stéphane Cadorette, Le Journal du Québec)
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  1. First of all, you can't blame the coaches for taking advantage of the current rules.
    But, that being said, the rules as they stand now must be overhauled to preserve the integrity of university sport, IMO.
    A player who has pro experience, that is, received monetary compensation in the form of salary and/or room and board should not be able to return to compete in university athletics in that particular sport.
    I think that's only fair.
    Of course, the NCAA rules are strict to the point of being anal, but at least there seems to be a thread of consistency with them.

  2. Constantin and Marshall are said to be the two highest paid coaches in CIS football. I guess they feel they have to do what ever it takes to win and justify their salaries.

    I remember the good old days (last year), when the Gee-Gees were criticized in some quarters for relying on too many transfers. I don't think any were ex-pros though.

    Coach Piche, it looks like you are going to have to try harder and scour the minor pro leagues in order to keep up with the Joneses.