The University of Guelph is deeply concerned and troubled by information it recently received concerning Dave Scott-Thomas, who was terminated on Dec. 16, 2019, from his position as the head of U of G’s track and field and cross-country program.
The University strives to provide student-athletes with an environment that is safe, positive, respectful and conducive to athletic and academic excellence. We are saddened to learn that some student-athletes coached by Scott-Thomas had unacceptable experiences, and we offer an apology to those who endured suffering and hardship.
In 2006, the University received a complaint from a family member of a student-athlete coached by Scott-Thomas. The University determined that an investigation was warranted and retained an independent external investigator. While that investigation did not substantiate all of the allegations, it determined that some misconduct had taken place and, based on details available at that time, the University suspended Scott-Thomas for four weeks.
In fall 2019, the University received a complaint from another student-athlete about Scott-Thomas and once again retained an independent external investigator. Pending the outcome of that investigation, Scott-Thomas was placed on paid leave, in accordance with standard human resources practice.
While the 2019 investigation was ongoing, the University received new information related to the earlier investigation that made it clear that Scott-Thomas had lied repeatedly in 2006 about several significant matters. The receipt of that new information resulted in the termination of Scott-Thomas from his U of G position. Had the University been aware in 2006 of this information, it would have terminated its relationship with Scott-Thomas at that time.
This week the University received the report from the independent external investigator it retained in 2019. That report concluded that the behaviour of Scott-Thomas toward the relevant athlete violated the trust inherent in the coaching and mentoring relationship and breached the University’s Coaches Code of Conduct. These conclusions reinforce the University’s decision to terminate Scott-Thomas from his position.
As well, Athletics Canada’s Independent Commissioner’s Office has launched an investigation of Scott-Thomas. The University will provide any relevant information or assistance, as appropriate.
The well-being of student-athletes is a University priority. In recent years, U of G has progressively and proactively instituted new policies and supports, from coaching codes of conduct to improved supports in areas such as wellness and student counselling. The University has also made personnel changes including creating new roles that reflect an improved and changing culture. The University has confidence in the abilities and leadership of its coaches and support staff and is continually looking for ways to build and grow. In this regard, it has engaged McLaren Global Sport Solutions, an internationally recognized sport consulting firm with extensive experience in sport governance, education, policy reviews and investigations, to conduct a thorough review of the University’s policies, practices and procedures and partnerships, and to explore ways to further enhance U of G’s athletics culture.
The University is committed to providing a teaching, learning and training environment that is respectful, caring and inclusive. The Director of Athletics is always available to speak with former and current student-athletes and coaches, (firstname.lastname@example.org). As well, U of G students and staff are reminded that University supports and resources are available, including the following: