Kevin Toney has been a volunteer high school coach and a supporter of the athletics department at the University of Winnipeg, his alma mater, for the better part of four decades.

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This article was published 15/12/2021 (199 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Kevin Toney has been a volunteer high school coach and a supporter of the athletics department at the University of Winnipeg, his alma mater, for the better part of four decades.

It came as a shock last week when he was informed he had been banned from using the school's recreational facilities until December 2022.

The suspension of Toney, a member of the Wesmen men's volleyball team in the early '80s, stems from a dispute over access to athletic facilities at the Duckworth Centre.

Toney, who had a paid-up facilities membership, took his 14-year-old son, Kai, to a workout booked on one of the racquetball courts on Dec. 2. He said he was confronted by facility supervisor Jonalyn Toledo about taking an underage person to the facility. A day later, Toney was denied entry when he returned to the Duckworth Centre.

"I can confirm that Mr. Toney has been barred from recreational facilities at the University of Winnipeg for one year," Dean Melvie, the U of W's manager of recreation facilities and services, stated in an email to the Free Press on Wednesday. "The University reserves the right to sanction any individual who violates facility policies or engages in conduct that is disrespectful to staff or other users."

That statement didn't match Toney's recollection of events.

"I am saying that is B.S.," said Toney, 58. "What they're objecting to is the fact that I finally spoke up against the way I was being treated. I can definitely say that voices were raised, but at no time did I curse, attack anyone personally, use any derogatory or profane language during that discussion.

Kevin Toney (right) was banned from the Duckworth Centre for bringing his son Kai (left) to a workout with him. (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Kevin Toney (right) was banned from the Duckworth Centre for bringing his son Kai (left) to a workout with him. (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press)

"I tried to explain to (Toledo) that for three years she's been treating my son with totally disrespect."

Toney said he was informed an age restriction was being enforced — no one under 16 allowed — and that friction over bringing Kai, a promising basketball player, along to workouts had been ongoing since he first purchased a facilities membership three years ago.

"They're telling me that they don't allow kids that are 14 and under because they've been having, quote, issues with teenagers," said Toney. "And my response to that is what does that have to do with my son and myself? My response was also, 'If you're having issues with teenagers, it's not going to be 14-and-under kids with their parents.'

"First of all, I disagree with the rule, because they can't arbitrarily say you're not going to let kids 14 and under in the building in a publicly funded facility because you've been having issues with teenagers. That is the definition of discrimination. You can't bar an entire population or group of people because of the actions of a few."

Toney said it would be common sense to permit supervised underaged kids to use the facilities.

"If somebody is in there with a 14 or younger kid who is supervised and has a guardian with them and that guardian is paying for a membership, he should be allowed to bring his son or daughter in there," he said.

"If they decide that, 'Hey you know what, you can but you've gotta pay for membership for that person,' I don't have a problem with that. My problem is them denying access to people 14 and under when it's stated nowhere on their website."

Toney, who has regularly attended Wesmen volleyball and basketball games with Kai, said he continues to have a strong relationship with the coaches and staff in the U of W athletic department. However, the ban issued by the recreation services means he will not be welcome in the stands for games.

Melvie would not comment further. U of W athletic director Dave Crook also declined to comment.

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.