SASKATOON – The University of Saskatchewan has fired men’s volleyball coach Brian Gavlas following reports he was aware of a sexual assault charge faced by a player when the team recruited the student athlete.
The university announced its decision on Thursday – three days after player Matthew Meyer pleaded guilty to the charge in a Medicine Hat, Alta., court.
Meyer also admitted to photographing the victim during the 2016 assault when he played with the Medicine Hat College Rattlers.
The university says Meyer was removed from the roster as soon as the conviction was brought to the attention of Huskie Athletics.
He joined the University of Saskatchewan Huskies this season, playing in 14 games.
The university says the situation raised significant concerns as to how the player was allowed to become a Huskie athlete.
“Huskie Men’s Volleyball Coach Brian Gavlas’ employment at the University of Saskatchewan has been terminated,” the university said in a emailed statement signed by Dean Chad London and Shawn Burt, chief athletics officer. “All Huskie athletes are expected to follow the Huskie Code of Conduct which explicitly states that their personal conduct reflects upon not only themselves, but the athletics program and the university.
“We also have high expectations of our leaders and expect them to be accountable in their roles.”
Meyer was sentenced to two years in prison and three years probation. Gavlas did not respond to a request for comment.
He told the Prince Albert Daily Herald he was aware of the sexual assault allegation, but said he and Meyer “didn’t go into a lot of detail” about it.
Advanced Education Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor spoke out about Gavlas before he was fired.
“I think the comments by the coach are disturbing because they trivialize what happened to the victim,” Beaudry-Mellor said in the legislature. “The young man in question was charged with the sexual assault of an unconscious woman, and took 147 photos of her.”
Beaudry-Mellor questioned the team’s move to recruit Meyer knowing of the charge.
“Those were very, very serious charges, and at the very minimum, you should hold off on recruiting an athlete until you find out whether or not those charges will be upheld. I think that’s important given the stature of varsity athletics,” she said.
The university says it will be reviewing its processes for screening and recruiting student athletes, as well as the policies regarding employee conduct. The search for a new head coach will begin in the coming weeks, the statement says.