Opinion: Montreal wins appeal, against all odds... and logic

This is the opinion of Jared Book and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the CIS Blog or any of its contributors.

You figured it was a last-ditch effort when the University of Montreal appealed the decision by the Quebec conference to get their forfeited win against the Saint Mary's Huskies back. It was a formality that the decision would stand.

Wrong. Friday night, it was announced that the Carabins would get their 11-10 win back for playing with ineligible player Mike Dubuisson. The official reason was (translated literally) a "procedural defect." But Montreal would still be fined because the conference decided that, yes, Dubuisson was ineligible.

So, Montreal played a suspended player, cited they thought that he was eligible. He makes an interception and returns it to the 2-yard-line in a game that ended 11-10 and they are still able to win the game? It makes no sense. Especially considering the league still maintains he WAS ineligible. This isn't a league changing its decision, it's a league softening its penalty which shouldn't be negotiable.

It's obvious there are issues when this could happen, but let's be clear. Sherbrooke knew very well that Beni Djock was ineligible for three games and they were involved in the same incident. What happens if this game was between the Carabins and Vert et Or instead of the Huskies? The precedent is that the team that broke the rules would have an advantage over the team that followed them. Was the win given back because the Huskies are in the AUS and this forfeited win makes the Quebec conference look bad? If this game was against a Quebec opponent, would the decision have stayed?

It's a valid question.

What about Dubuisson's role in the win? We're not talking about a backup who barely saw the field. We're talking about a guy making his first start. A guy who made a big play. Was that taken into consideration?

The biggest problem I see is that a team can plead ignorance and reap the benefits of their error. The sad thing is, if Montreal really wasn't sure, they could have called and asked. Obviously Sherbrooke knew. I've talked to other people who say that other teams knew as well. Why should Montreal benefit from not knowing, and not trying to find out?

For me, something's just plan unsportsmanlike about this. I don't care how it affects the AUS playoff race because Saint Mary's did lose the game and doesn't necessarily merit benefiting from Montreal's error, although it did come into play as they are now resigned to second place after their loss to Acadia.

But Montreal went from behind in the battle for second place (they would be 5-3 after their win vs Concordia yesterday) to right in the middle (they will be tied with the loser of today's Laval-Sherbrooke game which many expect to be Sherbrooke).

Yes, that same Sherbrooke team that didn't play their suspended running back for the season's first three games. Do they get a medal for that? No, they just get to keep $2,500. Seems fair, right?
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  1. There's more to it than this; a lack of liability means that you now have less incentive for leagues to suspend players for poor or even violent conduct. Dubuisson wasn't suspended for administrative reasons - he waded into the stands at a football game and started assaulting people. But now even the suspension doesn't mean anything; if ever his team needs him enough, they just pay a fine and the suspension goes away. So we chip at the integrity not just of the competition, but at the safety of players and fans.

  2. The truth about this is even stranger, but not as nefarious as Jared implies. In an interview during the Montreal @ Concordia game, an RSEQ representative explained what the procedural defect in question was.

    When RSEQ first rendered their decision (forfeited game for Montreal), they informed Montreal verbally but not in writing. In their 2nd appeal, Montreal pleaded that this prevented them from mounting an effective defense in the 1st appeal, and that this constituted a procedural defect that deprived them of their right to a fair process.

    So, it's nothing more than a victory of superior lawyering vs gross incompetence on RSEQ's part.

    I know, surreal right?

  3. Thanks Sebby. When I first read the SRC story on this, it made mention of the procedural matter but didn't state what it was. I couldn't figure it out and the appeal decision hadn't been posted.

    I have to admit, not providing a written copy of the initial decision is a bit bizarre.