‘Behavioural issues’ behind U of W Collegiate’s decision to end junior boys basketball team’s season
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The University of Winnipeg Collegiate has taken an unusual step of disbanding a sports team midway through its competitive season.
The private academy has halted its junior boys basketball program for the remainder of 2022-23, according to the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association.
“I can’t speak on (the Collegiate’s) behalf, but in speaking with them, there seemed to be a series of behavioural issues and they thought it was best to just shut the team down for the year,” said Chad Falk, executive director of the association.
The Grade 9-12 school, which operates in downtown Winnipeg on the U of W campus, had one regular game left on the MHSAA calendar prior to its leaders pulling the plug.
The Wesmen team competes in Zone 12 of the MHSAA under the AAA designation. It is made up of both Grade 9 and 10 players.
“All four of our teams have the reputation as being provincial contenders every year. We have numerous provincial championships in the past 10 years and have built a program that creates a culture of excellence,” states an excerpt about the basketball program on the Collegiate’s website.
Falk called the decision to forfeit a season “very rare.”
While teams have occasionally pulled out of events as a result of behavioural concerns in the past, the executive director said he cannot recall another instance when an entire season has been forfeited during his seven-year tenure.
The most common incidents reported to the MHSAA involve students acting disrespectfully towards their coach, teammates or opponents, and making “harassing comments,” of a homophobic, racist or gender-based nature, he added.
Neither Collegiate dean Kevin Clace nor athletic director Evan Maltman responded to a request for comment Friday. The team’s most recent match — which they lost by 13 points — was an away game against Gray Academy of Jewish Education.
The Wesmen had yet to win a basketball game in 2022-23 before their coaches ended the season.
U of W spokesman Caleb Zimmerman said the Collegiate takes concerns related to student conduct “very seriously,” but would not elaborate on the incidents that led to the high school leaders’ decision.
Andrea Ritter, communications director for Gray Academy, said her employer does not comment on incidents involving students, especially minors, or other schools’ policies or decisions. Ritter said in an email that administrators work with the MHSAA and other schools to follow up after any incidents, “in keeping with community values, policies and expectations of respectful conduct on and off the court or field.”
Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.