With any luck annual eligibility concerns do not become a tradition in CIS football. But for the second straight year a football program stands on the verge of forfeiting a win due to an eligibility miscue.
Wilfird Laurier lost their appeal to keep David Montoya on their football team, and while they're appealing the final decision they stand a good chance to lose that one as well. The University of Toronto will jump up the standings by reversing their loss to Laurier to a victory thanks to the use of an ineligible player and the Golden Hawks will be placed in an unenviable position of fighting for their playoff lives.
It does appear the Golden Hawks were mistaken when doing their eligibility homework. Whether their compassionate appeal makes sense or not may become irrelevant should the CIS stand by its policy; the rules are the rules and they are set in place for a reason.
And the rule was changed to ensure people didn't hold on to their last year of eligibility for too long, which does make perfect sense. There were years of precursors and fans yelling for change leading up to the CIS capping the age limit of when football players can join teams. And while the governing body was unable to snag every loophole they are in the process of doing just that right now.
While every above is hard to dispute one thing is potentially worthy of discussion - how long before a season starts should a rule be amended?
Rule changes are generally positive; they reflect an issue that demands investigation. But making a rule change after a recruiting season is complete is more complicated for sports programs. Making a rule change and saying that "any sport starting within the next three months is exempt from this rule until the following season" would save from some of these recent football eligibility issues taking place.
The Golden Hawks' football program should find themselves stripped of a win over Toronto because of their failure to comply with this newly amended eligibility rule. While their plea will be based in a positive light and on compassionate grounds rule violations do come with consequences, and those may be felt once the appeals process is done. The method in which rule changes are implemented however might also be an avenue worth exploring in the future.