Vote nullified

Varsity team of the year result altered after Queen’s Athletics disqualifies team retroactively

Supplied by Ian MacAlpine

An unspecified infraction changed the outcome of Queen’s varsity team of the year vote.

At Tuesday night’s Colour Awards banquet, women’s rugby was honoured as the top-performing Gaels varsity team of the 2013-14 season.

On March 13, however, a five-person panel voted to give the award — the Jim Tait Trophy — to men’s rugby, with women’s rugby finishing second in the vote.

The original voting panel consisted of two senior Athletics managers, two Athletics administrative employees and a Journal reporter.

Two days before the Colour Awards, the Journal was informed by Queen’s Athletics that the original vote had been nullified. The process was redone with an entirely different group of voters, who chose women’s rugby as the new winner.

According to Jeff Downie, associate director of business development and facilities at Athletics, one Team of the Year nominee was removed from consideration due to an infraction.

Downie said Athletics then struck a new panel to reconsider the Team of the Year award.

He declined to name the team that was removed from the voting process. He also declined to comment on the nature of the infraction.

“It is our policy not to allow a team that’s on probation to be eligible for major awards,” Downie said. “This was just an administrative oversight to leave them in the pile.

“By striking the new panel, we think we took the most unbiased, transparent process to redo it,” he added. “[It’s] easier to bring in new faces, who were unaware of it and could debate the merits of the teams in front of them.”

Before the vote was redone, the original panel met on March 13 in a boardroom at the ARC to choose the recipients of Queen’s varsity team and rookie of the year awards.

The Journal was invited to sit on the panel through email correspondence with Athletics, a position the newspaper has also filled in previous years. Aside from an embargo on naming the award winners until after Tuesday’s ceremony, the meeting was not identified as confidential.

First, the panel deliberated on the varsity team rookie of the year nominees. A series of votes were conducted to determine the winners: women’s rugby wing Karley Heyman and men’s hockey goaltender Kevin Bailie, both of whom were presented with their awards on Tuesday night.

Next, the panel moved onto team of the year voting. Varsity teams that won their league championship or appeared at their sport’s national championships in 2013-14 were included as nominees for the award.

That baseline of excellence left four Gaels teams in the running: men’s rugby, women’s rugby, women’s basketball and women’s cross-country.

During the course of the meeting, one Athletics representative said previous disciplinary action wasn’t taken into account when determining the team of the year nominee pool.

After a brief discussion period, voters cut the pool in half by ranking their top two contenders. Women’s rugby advanced with five votes and men’s rugby progressed with three; the other two were cast for women’s basketball.

Further debate was followed by a final ballot, with each member voting once.

By a 3-2 margin, men’s rugby was determined the victor, tabbing them — temporarily — as varsity team of the year.

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