University of Sask. coach reinstated after he was fired for recruiting athlete facing sexual assault charge

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has reinstated a fired University of Saskatchewan volleyball coach.

Brian Gavlas was fired in 2018 for recruiting a player, Matthew Alan Meyer, who was facing an outstanding sexual assault charge.

At the time, Gavlas knew about the charge but did not know the player planned to plead guilty.

According to the appeal court rulingGalvas also understood that a student-athlete was permitted to play on a team at the U of S not withstanding a criminal charge — and knew of other times when a student-athlete facing criminal charges had been permitted to play.

Galvas decided to Meyer for the first season due to the charges — meaning his participation on the team was limited — in hopes they would be resolved sometime that year.

In response to Gavlas’ union grieving his firing, an arbitrator found that Gavlas’ failure to report his decision to recruit Meyer was an error in judgment and was deserving of discipline — but not dismissal.

The U of S successfully appealed that decision to a Court of Queen’s Bench judge, who said the arbitrator failed to “apply a rational and consistent chain of analysis” in determining if Gavlas’ conduct was worthy of discipline, upholding the school’s decision to fire Gavlas .

Gavlas’ union then took the matter to the appeals court, which sided with the arbitrator in its March 30 ruling. The appeals court found that the judge had mischaracterized the arbitrator’s findings.

“In short, there is nothing necessarily inconsistent with discipline for not reporting an action but no discipline for doing the action itself. This is the case here,” the ruling states.

“The arbitrator found that while it was reasonable for the U of S to expect Mr. Gavlas to use good judgment, whether he did so was not the point because he had been empowered by the U of S to make recruiting decisions without restrictions or guidelines , and he exercised his judgment to recruit Mr. Meyer without intent to deceive and without evidence of bad faith.

“It was uncontroverted that the decision to recruit Mr. Meyer was one within the complete discretion of Mr. Gavlas and did not contravene any rule or policy of the U of S. The arbitrator appropriately found that the action of Mr. Gavlas in recruiting Mr. Meyer was not guilty, but that the failure to report it to his employer was guilty.”

The university says it’s reviewing the court’s decision with legal counsel to determine the appropriate next steps.

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