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University of Ottawa relieves men's hockey coach, cancels 2014-15 season

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University of Ottawa President Allan Rock delivers a statement in Ottawa on Wednesday June 25, 2014., regarding the men's varsity hockey program. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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University of Ottawa President Allan Rock delivers a statement in Ottawa on Wednesday June 25, 2014., regarding the men's varsity hockey program. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA - The University of Ottawa has relieved the head coach of its men's varsity hockey team after an internal investigation of allegations of drinking and sexual misconduct by some players during a trip to Thunder Bay in February.

The university will also maintain the suspension of the men's hockey program through the 2014-15 season.

University president Allan Rock says the coach was not involved in the misconduct, but should have notified authorities about the allegations.

Rock says the university will also put in place new policies and behaviour guidelines for athletes.

The university commissioned its own one-man inquiry into the incidents, but will not release the findings of that probe because police are conducting their own investigation.

"Independent investigator Steven Gaon conducted interviews related to the events in Thunder Bay, including allegations of excessive drinking and sexual misconduct," the university said in a statement.

The findings led to the decision to cancel the coming season.

"Gaon’s findings reveal that while the events in Thunder Bay represented an isolated incident, the behaviour of some players was unacceptable, did not reflect the university’s values and failed to meet the university’s expectations of its student-athletes."

The University of Ottawa website says Real Paiement has been coach of the men's team since 2011. He is a former head coach of the Canadian junior team and was named coach of the year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2002.

Rock also said he realizes that some innocent players have been tarred by the scandal.

"I am very much aware that for those members of our hockey team who were not in Thunder Bay, and for those who were present but took no part in the alleged events, this has been an especially difficult time." he said.

"The shadow cast by the allegations of misconduct has affected all members of the team, some unfairly.

But the university, too, is caught in the middle, Rock said.

"We cannot name names, either way, for fear of doing greater injustice or of running afoul of the law ourselves. We can only wait, as we all must wait, for the police investigation to run its course, hoping that when it concludes that will add greater clarity."

Police in Thunder Bay said the university's review was separate from their own investigation, which also recently concluded.

"We're currently reviewing the investigative file with the Crown," said spokesman Chris Adams, adding that an announcement on the case was expected "within the next few weeks."

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