The recent media focus on the University and the Athletics Department has served as an opportunity to have a valuable discussion, and we believe now is the time to move that discussion forward.
To begin, we want to reiterate that we do not tolerate sexual violence or harassment of anyone within our community.
In 2018 the University updated and strengthened the Gryphon Coaches Code of Conduct with an eye to addressing behaviours that may contravene the Code. Since then the University has ended its relationship with a small number of coaches due to violations of the Code. Each situation was different and the University took the necessary steps to address the misconduct.
In normal course, the University does not comment on human resources matters including the employment termination of past employees. However, in the context of the unique and deeply troubling circumstances of Dave Scott-Thomas, the University decided to publicly acknowledge his termination of employment.
Over the last few weeks, the termination of Scott-Thomas has generated much discussion about sexual misconduct in sports broadly and at the University of Guelph. While this dialogue has been very difficult for many, it has proven to be a very necessary and important public discussion.
For the University of Guelph, this dialogue has been critically important and has shone a light on the toxic environment that had been fostered and encouraged by coaches who are no longer with the organization. It has also given us the opportunity to remind our community that robust and survivor-focused supports, processes and policies are now in place to prevent and address sexual misconduct. This has prompted a number of current and former students to come forward. They have shown tremendous strength and courage.
Additionally, the University wishes to acknowledge and support the courage of the captains of the U of G track and field team who recently issued a statement regarding the deeply troubling impact on them of the recent reporting about the treatment of our student athletes by one of our former track and field coaches. These athletes spoke to those experiences but also reflected on the positive changes they have experienced in the team’s culture and leadership and about the support they have received.
The University is very proud of our student athletes and coaches and all who make up our athletics program. It is imperative that these talented and committed members of our community are not judged by our institutional challenges or defined by those who served to create a toxic environment.
The University is committed to addressing these issues, fostering a culture of transparency and trust and reassuring our community that improvements have been made and will continue to be made within our athletics department and across the University.